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Charlotte Vienneau and Michael Murad win top prizes in Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest

January 25, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Jim Stewart

Free throws—a vital ingredient in winning or losing basketball championships—are becoming a lost art in today’s NBA which places much higher stock on shooting 3s and spreading defenses for the behemoths that grace the professional hardcourt in 2024.

Watching this season’s version of the Raptors clang foul shots off the rim at crucial points in basketball games is enough to make a purist forego his or her cable or streaming package and turn to endless Hallmark Christmas movies for solace.

However, there is hope that the finer points of basketball are being honed right here in Peel Region and Simcoe County, based on the level of participation and performance in the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Event at Holy Family School in Alliston on Saturday.

More than fifty student athletes from 10 local schools participated in the annual test of foul shooting acumen. The event has been run by the Alliston Knights of Columbus since 1986. 

Event organizer and retired high school basketball coach Richard Maguire—who has run the contest since 1993—outlined the aims and stages of the competition.

“Each student had 15 shots to see who was the best in their age and gender group. Our top scorers for the day were Charlotte Vienneau for the girls with 11 out of 15 while Michael Murad had a perfect round– hitting all of his 15 shots. These winners will now go on to the district finals which will be held on February 3 at Holy Family School in Alliston. They will compete against the winners of the Bolton competition and those winners will proceed to the regional finals to be held in March.”

Coach Maguire delineated the 2024 South Simcoe divisional winners (with their home town and school in parentheses):

  Girls 9 Division:  Ava Silva (Alliston, Holy Family); 

Girls 10 Division: Alyssa Yokana (Alliston, St. Cecilia);

Girls 11 Division:  Drew Moran (Everett, Holy Family) tied Sophia Mejias (Beeton, Monsignor Ronan) Girls 12 Division: Charlotte Vienneau  (Beeton, Monsignor Ronan);

Girls 13 Division: Posi Ididapo (Alliston, St Cecilia).

Boys 9 Division: Silas Tesseris (Alliston, Baxter Central);

Boys 10 Division:  Ethan Mawbey (Alliston, St. Cecilia);

Boys 11 Division:  Jackson Donker (Alliston, St. Paul’s);

Boys 12  Division: Isaiah Manuel (Alliston, Ernest Cumberland);

Boys 13 Division: KarsonCarveth (Alliston, Ernest Cumberland);

Boys 14 Division: Landon Cuddy (Alliston, Banting Memorial);

Boys 15  Division: Michael Murad (Tottenham, St. Thomas Aquinas);

Boys 16 Division: Harisan Naguleswaran (Alliston, Banting Memorial).

Coach Maguire acknowledged that the best part of running this free throw contest is “maintaining my involvement with basketball and staying involved to help kids.”

“I spent so much time with it and I’ve always loved competition.”

Maguire, who started coaching basketball in 1969, retired from his dual role as teacher-coach at Banting Secondary School in 2000, but coached three more years as a volunteer Community Coach at Banting to help grow and maintain the program.

He noted that “coaching basketball was very fulfilling and the connections with the players was the best part of it.”

“I have great memories of players that went on to play the game at very high levels, I remember terrific tournament victories, and especially big learning moments for the players when we lost games too, most memorably with a team I coached at the Camp Olympia tournament where lessons learned about team building far exceeded the importance of the final score.”

In a humorous moment of self-deprecation, Coach Maguire also expressed his persistent struggle to “teach my players how to break a 1-2-1-1 press.”

Coach Maguire also spoke glowingly of the Knights of Columbus programs for youth which dovetail nicely with the Free Throw contest.

“We have programs like the Squires, a program for teenagers that introduces them to a life of community service with the Knights of Columbus, and we also have an annual poster design contest that raises awareness for teenagers regarding drug and alcohol abuse.”

It’s clear that Richard Maguire has discovered the Fountain of Youth through his service to teenagers for parts of seven decades. His actions inspire hope that free throws won’t be a lost art – with this retired, dynamic teacher-coach in charge of this annual shooting contest.

Perhaps the misfiring Raptors could hire St. Thomas Aquinas basketball player Michael Murad as their free throw shooting coach after he graduates high school.  15 for 15 from the charity stripe is a great score in a local competition – and a terrific resume item.



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