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In South Boston, the community comes together for a little basketball

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 28, 2014 12:54 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/2014/

Matiru Mwangi and Joey Maiullari, two local youths who participated in Saturday's tournament.

With their basketball shoes laced up and their game faces on, youths gathered at the South Boston Boys and Girls Club Saturday for the chance to win a year of bragging rights at the Knights of Columbus’ annual free-throw contest.

The event, which draws youth from both South Boston and Dorchester, has been a neighborhood favorite since members of the South Boston chapter of the Knights of Columbus restarted the tradition in 2011. The contest, which chapters from across the United States participate in, is not new to the neighborhood, however, and has a 30-year history with the knights.

“The kids love it, the parents love it, and it’s just a great event for the community,” explained Brendan Price, a member of the South Boston chapter. “It gives them something to look forward to and it’s important to keep them active.”

With youth ages 9 to 13 participating, competition was tough Saturday as the young athletes lined up to see who could sink the most baskets.

The winners of Saturday’s tournament will move on to the district competition. If they are successful at the district level, they will then head to the state-wide tournament and eventually nationals.

“I really look forward to this event,” said Joey Maiullari, a South Boston resident who won the 13-year-old division. “Usually months before I’m out practicing getting ready for the contest.”

Maiullari isn’t new to the sport or the competition, he won the state-wide tournament in 2011.

“I don’t brag about it,” Maiullari said. “Everybody has their day, but it was fun to have everybody congratulating me.”

Maiullari, however, wasn’t the only hot shot Saturday. Matiru Mwangi, a Dorchester resident, won the 12-year-old division.

“I think this is fun, it’s different from games and practice,” Mwangi said. “When I’m shooting I just try to keep my focus, aim my hand towards the basket, and let go.”

Although for many of the older participants the focus was on the medal and moving on to the district competition, Saturday also offered an opportunity to pick up some valuable basketball skills from knights members, including Ray Flynn, the former mayor of Boston and a college basketball star in his day.

“Sports are very important for the development of youth,” said Flynn. “We never had much growing up, but we had sports and that’s what kept us out of trouble. Kids need to be given healthy alternatives.”

Age Group Winners:

13 - Joey Maiullari
12 - Matiru Mwangi
11 - Xavier Nunez, Jerry Marks
10 - Evan Markos, Domenic Mancuso
8 - Stephen Flynn, Jared Frith

11 - Caroline Flynn
10 - Caitlin Fitzgerald
9 - Jane Matthews
8 - Teagan Fitzgerald

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(Patrick D. Rosso/2014/

Ray Flynn worked with youth on their technique Saturday


Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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