ROUNDUP: Wilson sixth-grader 3rd at state Elks Hoop Shoot; Pitts receives Mildred Ball Award

Mar. 8—Woodrow Wilson Middle School sixth-grader Casen Kelley placed third in the State Elks Hoop Shoot competition in the historic Hoosier Gym — home of the cinematic Hickory High School Huskers — at New Richmond last month.

Kelley won his local competition by hitting 22 of 25 free throws. Kelly advanced from the district title by hitting 21 of 25 free throws. Then, he captured third place in the state competition by hitting 19 of 25 free throws in the iconic Hickory gym.

More than 9,000 students across Indiana participated in the Elks Hoop Shoot contest this year.

College track

—Staggs placed ninth — At Boston, Indiana State pole-vaulter Will Staggs capped off a stellar indoor season Friday afternoon at the NCAA indoor national championships, earning a ninth-place finish at The TRACK at New Balance.

Staggs cleared marks of 17 feet, 4.5 inches on his second attempt and 17-8.5 on his third attempt. The ninth-place finish earns Staggs second-team men's All-America honors.

Friday's All-America performance caps an indoor season which saw him break the school pole vault record twice, along with the Indiana State facility record in the pole vault. He became the first MVC Athlete since 2001 to clear a mark of 18-0.5 or better, having done so twice this season. A model of consistency this season, Staggs cleared 17-2.75 or better at every meet he competed in this season.

Staggs won the MVC indoor pole-vault title for the third straight year, becoming the sixth athlete in conference history to win three straight pole vault titles. He was named the MVC's Elite 17 Award winner for being the medalist with the highest cumulative GPA.

Staggs' performance at the NCAA indoor national championships gave Indiana State second-team All-Americans in back-to-back seasons after JaVaughn Moore's ninth-place finish in the 60m in 2023.

—Hobbs third in prelims — At Virginia Beach, Va., Rose-Hulman senior Jailen Hobbs brought home a third-place finish in the 60m prelims to qualify for the finals at 3:25 p.m. EST Saturday.

Hobbs ran a school record time of 6.75 seconds to finish second in his heat behind Davian Willems from Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a time of 6.74.


—Pitts to receive IBCA award — P.J. Pitts is the winner of the 2024 IBCA Mildred Ball Award.

Now in his 29th season as an official, Pitts began officiating in 1995 and has extensive state tournament experience for boys basketball and girls basketball. For boys, he has worked 20 sectionals, 14 regionals, seven semistates and four state finals (2009, 2013, 2016 and 2020). For girls, he has called 23 sectionals, 16 regionals, nine semistates and five state finals (2009, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2022).

Pitts, a 29-year member of the Wabash Valley Officials Association and a two-year member of the Western Indiana Officials Association, also has worked as a football official and volleyball official, and he has been a part of crews that twice called the football state finals (2015 and 2018). He has served as president of the WVOA for four years and eight years as a board member.

In 2019, Pitts was selected as the IHSAA's Official of the Year in boys basketball.

In receiving the Mildred Ball Award, Pitts expressed thanks to the late Don Corey, his officiating mentor and 2005 IHSAA Official of the Year in girls basketball, as well as 29-year partner Mark Hopper, the 2018 IHSAA Official of the Year in girls basketball, the 2022 IHSAA Official of the Year in boys basketball and the 2022 NFHS Section 4 Official of the Year.

A 1994 graduate of West Vigo High School, Pitts played basketball for the Vikings and coach Steve DeGroote.