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Liberty Lake 11-year-old Madox Hodges wins National free throw championship

UPDATED: Sun., May 22, 2022

By Charlotte McKinley For The Spokesman-Review

It was nothing but net for Madox Hodges at the 2022 Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot in Chicago last month.

Hodges, an 11-year-old from Liberty Lake, sank 24 out of 25 free throws in the final round to win the national championship of the 10-11 age bracket.

“I was going to try my best,” Hodges said of his ambitions heading into the finals on April 28-May 1, “and I wanted to win, too.”

The Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot competition has been running for 50 years. Boys and girls ages 8 to 13 are eligible to compete. The competition starts at the local level in January before moving on to districts, state, regionals and nationals.

“We didn’t care if he won,” his father Joe Hodges said. “We wanted him to feel good about how he did, and then he just happened to win.”

Hodges has been playing basketball for most of his life.

This was his third year competing in the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot competition, but his first time making it to nationals. Surprisingly, he didn’t feel overwhelmed with pressure.

“In games you have pressure on your free throws, (but) these were no-pressure free throws,” the Liberty Lake Elementary student said.

Hodges’ score was his best performance he’s had at the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot national competition.

“I was nervous watching him, but he made it look very easy,” his father said.

Hodges had to work his way up through the preliminary rounds. At the local competition at the Warehouse, Hodges sank 23 of 25 free throws. At Districts, held in Moses Lake, he hit 24 of 25, which qualified him to state, where he buried 22 of 25. His 23-of-25 performance at regionals qualified him for nationals.

“We knew he was a really good shooter,” his father said. “Each step we got a little more nervous as parents watching (him), but he got progressively better and better and closer to 25.”

For Hodges, competing at Nationals was special, but having his older brother Micah tag along was even more so. Micah earned a spot at nationals in 2020, but the tournament was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To me, it (was) kind of motivation to get him there too,” Hodges said.

After his victory at nationals, it was back to the usual routine for Hodges – playing basketball with his AAU team, Built4Ball, and working on his free throws.

Hodges has his sights set on competing at Hoopfest this June with his team. Past that, he has two more years of eligibility with the Elks Lodge Free Throw competition and has aspirations for another title.

“I think I got a gift from God (with) basketball,” he said.

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