St. Aloysius seventh-grader shoots way to Southeast title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2001

Annie Beaugh, 12, a seventh-grader at St. Aloysius, made 21 of 25 free throws in the Elks Club’s “Hoop Shoot” in Valdosta, Ga., Saturday to win the Southeast Regional title. She will shoot for the national title in Springfield, Mass., on April 21. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/22/01] Annie Beaugh is only 12 years old, but she already has a few things in common with NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal.

Both average more than 20 points a game. Both play for teams that wear purple and gold. And both are key parts of successful teams.

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The biggest difference?

Annie hits her free throws.

Beaugh, a seventh-grader at St. Aloysius, hit 21 out of 25 free throws Saturday in Valdosta, Ga., to win the Elks “Hoop Shoot” Southeast Region Championship in the 12- to 13-year-olds’ girls division.

She will now head to Springfield, Mass., to compete in the national finals on April 21 against 11 other regional winners. Beaugh, who won local, district and state competitions to get to Valdosta, beat state champions from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama at the regional competition.

“I was a little nervous, but when I was shooting, I wasn’t,” Beaugh said of the regional competition.

Beaugh’s success came as no surprise. She hit 23 out of 25 to win the state competition by seven shots, and her junior high coach, Debbie Anding, said that Beaugh shot over 90 percent from the line last season.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if she wins it. I know that’s a lot of pressure to put on her, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit,” Anding said.

She averaged about 22 points to lead St. Al to a 10-4 finish.

“She understands the game, can make things happen on the court, and she’s a team player,” Anding said. “Somebody, five or six years down the road, needs to be watching her right now.”

Beaugh said she shoots free throws for about an hour every day.

Last year, more than 3 million participated in Elk’s Hoop Shoots, from the local level up.

Beaugh said she isn’t sure if anything less than perfection would be good enough to win a national championship.

“They’re probably going to make 25 out of 25,” she said with a laugh, adding, “I don’t know if I can do that good.”