One last shoot for Starr
By MIKE BALDWIN
Bremerton Patriot Sports Writer
January 21, 2011 · Updated 5:22 PM
Sitting at home after school and basketball practice, Starr Rodenhurst, 13, contemplated her future in the sport.
It was the start of a new year, and she had a week to decide whether to give her streak of elite free-throw shooting another shot.
After a long discussion with her mother, Starr decided to compete. It is her final year of eligibility in the Elks Hoop Shoot, sponsored by the Bremerton Elks Club.
Rodenhurst shot 76 percent to win the county title in the girls age 12-13 category at the 38th annual shoot-off, hosted at Ridgetop Junior High School earlier this month.
It’s the fifth go-round for Starr, who advanced to the national championship round as a 9-year-old in 2007 and finished sixth in the country. Last year, as a 12-year-old, she placed third at the regional shoot.
On Saturday, Rodenhurst will shoot in the district stage at the Boys and Girls Club in Sequim.
“I have a good feeling about it,” Rodenhurst said this week. “I think I can win the next event if I just keep practicing like I have been.”
The Elks Hoop Shoot competition includes students from ages eight to 13, competing to see who can make the most of 25 free throws.
Rodenhurst, a seventh grader at Central Kitsap Junior High School, practices for 90 minutes everyday. She’s excited to travel again, but admitted there’s a hint of nervousness seeing as it is her last chance to reach the top. Starr’s father, Inoa Rodenhurst, offered his daughter words of encouragement to ease the stress.
“I told her to just take it one step at a time, it’s a huge accomplishment already,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t make her nervous, and I don’t think it’s a huge issue, but I’m sure she thinks about this being her last time a little in the back of her head.”
Starr Rodenhurst’s busy school schedule makes it harder to find time for practicing, Inoa Rodenhurst said. However, he believes Starr Rodenhurst’s evolving talent, and two years of experience, will lift her to the next round.
“She’s maturing and keeping her nerves in check,” Inoa Rodenhurst said. “She seemed a little laxed in this first round, and I think she knows she needs to do better to excel. I guarantee this year will be a tough one, it’s good to know she can compete at a high level.”
Starr Rodenhurst made significant strides since last year’s shoot-out, including an improved delivery from the free-throw line. She’s now able to hit her free throws from the charity stripe without jumping, which she said is a result of better strength this time around.
“I haven’t been jumping, so that’s very new to me,” she said. “Whenever I used to jump, it went too far and hit the back of the rim, but now my shots have been more accurate, either swishes or just barely touching the rim.”
Rodenhurst plans to tryout for her school’s girls basketball team later this month. The multi-sport athlete hopes to earn a spot on the junior varsity or varsity squad. Starr’s father, meanwhile, admires her hard work playing organized soccer, fastpitch, basketball and volleyball.
“Really her goal is to just make the team period, which is a good accomplishment,” he said. “The older she’s getting, I’m stressing to her, she’s going to have to hone in on a couple of sports instead of all three or four of them.”
Yvonne Brittain coaches Rodenhurst on the Puget Sound Elite’s 7th to 8th-grade squad, and said she’s impressed after a month with one of Kitsap’s top young shooters.
“Starr is one of the new bright and exciting kids to watch,” Brittain added. “She’s a committed player, and that’s what it takes. Most of these kids, including Starr, are working out three or four times a week, so that takes dedication.”
If Rodenhurst wins the district title Saturday, she will play for a state title on Feb. 12 in Bellevue. She’ll need to win the state and regional titles to earn her second, and final, trip to the national championships in April.
Starr’s Hoop Shoot Streak
County shoot: 84%
District shoot: 76%
State shoot: 72%
Regional shoot: 68% (finished in third place; did not advance to nationals)
County shoot: 36% (finished in second place; did not participate in districts)
Failed to finish in the top three
County shoot: 76%
District shoot: 54%
State shoot: 72%
National: 76% (sixth place)