OCEAN PARK Melissa Merino-Ortiz is going to Seattle to compete in the Elks Hoop Shoot state competition Saturday, Jan. 22. Her journey began Dec. 11 at Ocean Park Elementary School (OPES) at her schools contest. Other Sandpipers (the school mascot) participating were Ethan Bannister, Blake Hajdok, Aslyn Fisher, Joey Smith, Jacob Zaidins, Dulce Romero, Elizabeth Pattison, Erika Araujo, Jorge Merino-Ortiz, Marcos Mendoza, John Glenn and Reece Pierson.
Four OPES students won the local competition and moved on the shoot at Kelso. They were Mendoza, Glenn, Pierson, and of course Merino-Ortiz. I made 15 shots at Kelso, or maybe it was 10, Merino-Ortiz said shyly. I do know that my chances of winning in Seattle are pretty good.
Merino-Ortiz, who is an eight-year-old third grader at OPES has never been to Seattle, but her time spent practicing on the playgrounds of Ocean Park has her excited to compete on the big stage. Brenden Greenfield in 2008 and Tanner Ketel in 1996 both advanced to the national competition and Ilwaco senior Alexa Wirkkala competed at state as a nine-year-old.
Many other Naselle and Ilwaco basketball players, both boys and girls, have successfully competed in the Elks Hoop Shoot over the years.