Free throwing family: Besonens succeed at states

Photo provided by the Besonen family Emma, Bree, Annabelle and Christian Besonen hold their trophies after winning the Elks National Hoop Shoot Michigan state finals in Alma, Michigan, in late February. Emma and Bree have advanced to the national finals which will take place on April 27 in Chicago.

EWEN — While the Besonens’ oldest daughter, Elise, was earning accolades on the basketball court, the other Besonen children have been earning honors at the free throw line. Emma, age 11, and Bree, 9, are headed to the Elks National Hoop Shoot in Chicago on April 27. The fraternal organization has been holding an annual free throw competition which draws hundreds of youngsters to the foul line for close to 50 years now.

To get there, the two Besonens had to first win at the state level, which they did along with their 13-year old brother Christian and their 13-year-old cousin Annabelle at the end of February.

The sharp shooters then went to regionals in Angola, Indiana, where they faced the finest shooters in their age groups from Indiana and Ohio.

Emma shot 20-25 and Bree hit 23-25. Those scores earned them a ticket to the Windy City. Christian shot 22-25, but ultimately lost out on a chance to advance by one shot.

The Besonen clan represents the Copper Country Elks Lodge No. 404 in Calumet.

“We knew about the Hoop Shoot because as children, both Brad and I competed in the competition,” said Jackie. “I was a local champion and Brad was a state champion.”

Basketball runs in Brad and Jackie’s blood.   

The two Ewen-Trout Creek (ETC) natives went on to play basketball at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and are teachers and basketball coaches in the ETC School District. Jackie teaches fifth grade and is coaches the high school girls’ varsity team while Brad teaches music and handles the high school’s boys program.

“Basketball teaches you hard work and perseverance and throughout the years we have met so many wonderful people and families through the sport,” said Jackie.

Elise, now  age 15, set the family bar high as she was a three-time regional champion, three-time state champion and placed second in the nations when she was 11 followed by a third at age 12.

Jackie has Emma and Bree shooting 100 free throws a day at the ETC gym as they get ready for nationals, where they will face 11 opponents from around the nation.

“The key to a good free throw is proper shot form, confidence and practice, practice and practice,” she said.