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A Shot for Life: Charity basketball contest to decide ‘The Best Shooter in Rhode Island’

Players will compete in Newport on Aug. 14 while raising money for brain cancer research

Aaron Cooley, a Massachusetts player heading to Brown University in the fall, prepares to shoot.
Aaron Cooley, a Massachusetts player heading to Brown University in the fall, prepares to shoot.Betsy Cullen/Betsy Cullen Photography

PROVIDENCE — A group of high school and prep school basketball players will compete for the title of “The Best Shooter in Rhode Island” during an Aug. 14 contest in Newport that raises money for brain cancer research.

The A Shot For Life Challenge has been an annual tradition in Massachusetts since 2013, and this is the first year of expansion into the Ocean State.

“The essence of A Shot For Life is to use sports to positively impact others,” said Mike Slonina, CEO and Founder of A Shot For Life Inc. “We are very excited that our mission through this particular ASFL initiative has expanded to Rhode Island. I know our incoming players are excited to leave the legacy of the ASFL Family program for the generations of players that will come after them.”

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Funds raised by the challenge will benefit the Dr. Curry Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A Shot For Life is a sports-based nonprofit that funds health and cancer research initiatives. Its roots go back to 2010 when Slonina’s mother was diagnosed with a potentially malignant brain tumor. He wanted to use his love of basketball to raise money for the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and spread awareness for early detection. So he began training, and during one 24-hour period in April 2011 he made 5,930 successful shots from multiple places on the basketball court.

The A Shot For Life Challenge is a competitive process that includes a scouting phase, an interview phase for all players, and the selection phase.

“We not only scout all prospective shooters closely, but we also look for people of great character,” the organization said. “All of the participants involved in the A Shot For Life Challenge have committed to spend a significant amount of time and energy to raise money for brain cancer research. Their excitement and willingness to do so speaks volumes about who they are as people off of the court.”

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Players drawn from a pool of Rhode Island Interscholastic League and New England Preparatory School Athletic Council teams. Players that are from Rhode Island but play in another state are eligible for selection, as are players that are from a different state but play in Rhode Island.

The contest, which will take place at St. George’s School, involves shooting three-pointers, mid-range jumpers and free throws over the course of two hours. The winner is whoever finishes with the highest percentage of shots made.

Among past participants, 65 have played Division 1 college basketball, and 10 have played professionally.

The boys competition includes the following players and their schools:

  • Raf Awa (La Salle)
  • Jake Bender (St. George’s)
  • Travis Cobain (Wheeler)
  • Matt Constant (St. Andrew’s)
  • Denzel Correia (Rocky Hill)
  • Ned Fitzpatrick (Classical)
  • Mike Levesque (Marianapolis Prep)
  • Fran Lopez (Toll Gate)
  • Calvin Lucenti (Portsmouth)
  • David Lynch (Bishop Hendricken)
  • Parker Mason (Rocky Hill)
  • Jack McMullen (Marianapolis Prep)
  • Preston Murphy Jr. (St. Andrew’s)
  • Michael Paquette (Cranston West)
  • Jason Peters (Times Squared)
  • Derek Salvatore (Johnston)
  • Tyriek Weeks (Pilgrim)

The girls competition includes the following players and their schools:

  • Grace Ceseretti (Northfield Mount Hermon)
  • Elayna Comella (La Salle)
  • Giana Decesare (Marianapolis Prep)
  • Mia Fiore (IMG Academy)
  • Tatum Forbes (St. Mark’s)
  • Cadence Johnson (St. Andrew’s)
  • Kate Keenan (Wheeler)
  • Mia Mancini (Wheeler)
  • Nicole Parks (St. George’s)
  • Chiron Rose (St. George’s)
  • Kayla Saddler (West Warwick)
  • Thalia Shepard (St. Andrew’s)
  • Kaleigh Valle (St. Andrew’s)
  • Olivia VanPatten (Cranston West)
  • Tori Viau (Johnston)
  • Madi Zancan (Cumberland)

To donate to the A Shot For Life Challenge please follow this link.