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Baskets in their blood

stacy ignaszewski,
Stacy Ignaszewski stands at the free-throw line as she prepares to take a shot during the 1986 Hoop Shoot. Simon went on to take fourth place at the national tournament. Submitted photo
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

After Geneva’s Parker Simon took first place in the boys’ nine- to 10-year-old division at the  Owatonna Elks Hoop Shoot earlier this month, it’s safe to say that baskets are just in the Simon family’s blood.

Thirty-four years prior, his mother, Stacy Simon – formerly Ignaszewski – laid claim to her fourth Owatonna Hoop Shoot title in as many years.

“I completely agree with why my parents were so nervous to watch me compete. As I’m watching him compete, I’m counting how many each kid made and keeping track. But he didn’t look nervous at all – just like how I felt when I competed. It was really great to see him do so well,” said Stacy Simon.

Parker’s big day at the event saw him cash in 20 of his 25 free-throw attempts in near-perfect fashion.

While one would think that the young competitor had been practicing for the event to shoot so remarkably well, Parker’s experience with basketball may come as a shock.

“It’s funny because he actually just started playing basketball last year,” Stacy said. “He’s been wrestling since he was three, but this past year was the first time he’s ever played organized basketball.”

In fact, Parker’s results at the event came as a surprise even to himself.

“I felt good, but my confidence level wasn’t very high because I don’t think I’m a very good free-throw shooter. I was surprised. I just went out there, did two dribbles and shot,” said Parker.

With the win at the Owatonna Hoop Shoot, Parker will follow in his mother’s footsteps by advancing on to the district competition to be held at Mankato Loyola High School on Feb. 5.

By winning in his first year of competing, Parker will have the opportunity to potentially match his mother’s resume, as she won consecutively from the years 1986-89.

However, if the young hooper wants to potentially be the Simon family’s heir to the hoop shoot throne, he will have to go pretty far into the competition.

Stacy Simon’s hoop shoot accolades include a fourth-place finish at the national competition held in Indianapolis in 1986, where she made 18 of 25 free-throw attempts.

While Parker mentioned he has been training at his school gym for the next round of competition, he did confirm that he will not be drastically changing his approach to the competition.

“I’m just going to show up and do my best.”

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