It is a fact Nick DePatsy can positively mold young athletic minds. Having successfully coached varsity basketball at Madison, Georges Valley, Lincoln Academy of Newcastle and now his alma mater of Medomak Valley, few would dispute the fact he is a terrific coach.

However, what some may not have known until recently is, while the father can coach the sport, it is becoming equally evident that the daughter can shoot the basketball.

Shoot the lights out would be more like it.

After winning her age group at the local, district and state levels in the past several weeks, Gabrielle DePatsy displayed her terrific foul shooting and keen eye for all of New England to see as she shot to first place this past weekend at the Elks Club New England Region 6 Hoop Shoot Semifinal.

With the victory, DePatsy, representing Rockland Elks Lodge #1008 and competing in the 8-9-year-old age division, earned a spot in the National Hoop Shoot Final, set for the weekend of Friday through Sunday, April 23-25 in Springfield, Mass. DePatsy will then compete with many other sharpshooting youths from around the country to earn the distinction of the nation’s top free-throw shooter for her age group.

Should DePatsy emerge victorious, she will have her name on a plaque in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, which is the birthplace of the sport.

“She is a confident young girl who just steps up and knocks down shots,” said her father Nick. “She is very focused. My wife and I are very proud of her. She is having fun and meeting lots of different girls her own age that she could be friends with for years.
The Elks do an excellent job running this program, and it’s a great experience for all of the kids involved.”

According to DePaty’s mother, Michelle, the youngster has often accompanied her father to summer basketball camps since she was age three and currently averages 12-13 points per game on her peewee team.

“We are very proud and excited for Gabby to be able to have the opportunity to excel at this level,” mom said. “She has nerves of steel getting through these four levels of competition.”

The format for the competitions consisted of each participant first shooting 10 free throws, before making way for other competitors. The participant would then shoot their final 15 free throws, completing the competition. She made eight of her first 10 free throws, before connecting on 13 of her final 15 to win the most recent competition.

There are three age groups  — 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 — spanning divisions for males and females.

At the Region 6 Hoop Shoot Semifinal this past weekend, held at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, DePatsy canned 21-of-25 free throws to beat the five other participants in her age group to clinch the New England title.

There are 12 regions across the United States.

DePatsy first won the local competition held at Rockland District Middle School Jan. 17, where she netted 15-of-25 free throws. That performance moved her to the Maine Coastal District Competition Jan. 24 at Bath Middle School, where she beat the rest of the field by converting 21-of-25 free-throw attempts.

Then on Jan. 31 at Brewer High School, DePatsy again put on a shooting clinic of her own at the state level, canning 21-of-25 attempts to advance to this past weekend’s New England Hoop Shoot semis.

To send congratulations or good luck wishes to DePatsy or other competitors in the upcoming National Hoop Shoot Final, go online to elks.org/hoopshoot/greetings.cfm.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.