Olds Elementary School teacher Randy Kish (left), with student Spencer Clifford and Richard Bodnar, chair of the Basketball Free Throw championship. (Contributed photo).

Olds student uses his ‘NBA flick’ to win free-throw basketball championship

Spencer Clifford starts his school day by sinking a few baskets

About 120 students at Olds Elementary School start their day with a ‘Good Morning Basketball’ before-school program designed to rev-up their brain power with activity.

“Basically, kids come through the (gym) door, I play music, and they practise their shooting and dribbling skills,” said teacher Randy Kish, who’s been running the informal program for 11 years to provide a fun start to the day.

Grade 4 student Spencer Clifford, has obviously learned his basketball moves lessons well.

As the school’s star shooter, Clifford also just won a provincial first in a Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship over about 150 other Alberta students.

He is one of five Chinook’s Edge students to be named champs in the challenge. The others from various Olds schools are Lugereke Shamvu, Zoey McCormick, Austin Schoonderbeek, and Naomi Rieberger.

Ten-year-old Clifford said he practises “a lot” and also has a trick or two up his sleeve. He uses “the NBA flick,” which means “you flick your wrist (as you throw) and it get a nice backspin, which helps get the ball in the net.”

Despite being just under five feet tall, Clifford has earned other recognition for his ability to repeatedly sink baskets. Last December, he went head to head with Brittany Thibeaux of the Old College Broncos, the top scorer in the country for women’s college basketball — and tied with her.

The two had to go to a shoot-out (which Thibeaux won by just one point), recalled Kish, with a chuckle.

“He’s an amazing guy, this Spencer,” added the teacher, who noted Clifford is the first student who’s won the school championship in all three years that he’s entered.

Clifford will be leaving the elementary school in June, but plans to keep practising basketball in middle school — and hopefully all the way through to university. “I find it fun and challenging.”


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