Owyhee’s Hunter Smartt (Shoshone-Paiute) takes state hoops title
Owyhee Combined School student Hunter Smartt is forging his own basketball path.
Earlier this year, he became the Nevada State Champion in the boys’ 8-9 age bracket for the Elks Hoop Shoot Competition for 2019.
Smartt lives in Owyhee and is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute tribes. His parents are Terajean Whiterock and Lenville Smartt.
His sister is Kaylani Smartt, who graduated last year from Owyhee Combined School and went on to play college basketball for Benedictine University at Mesa in Arizona, an NAIA school that competes in the California Pacific Conference.
Hunter Smartt began his journey as a fourth-grader last December when he competed in Elko at the Great Basin Elks Lodge #1472 contest. The competition was a no-cost, free-throw-shooting event, and contestants had to register the morning of the competition. He took first place in the boys division, advancing to the district competition in Austin the next month, taking another first place.
To become state champ, Hunter made 21 of 25 free throws in February in Hawthorne. He moved from there onto the Region 7 finals in Las Vegas in March, where he represented the State of Nevada and faced competitors from four other states.
He ended up in third place at the Vegas event, said Myrna D. Hilderbrand, a teacher at Owyhee Combined School, who congratulated Smartt for his achievement, saying it was “a great honor for a hardworking young man.”
En route to winning the state title earlier this year, Smartt won two gold trophies, one medal, two jackets with patches, two basketballs, a movie ticket and $250, according to an email from Hilderbrand.
Smartt, who will be a fifth-grader this coming school year at Owyhee, wanted to enter the hoop shoot contest and said, “I couldn’t play basketball since I injured my knee and I wanted to keep in practice shooting. I think my parents are proud and happy for me.”
Smartt’s success this year comes more than 30 years after Owyhee’s Michelle Jim was an Elks Hoop Shoot finalist in 1987, Hilderbrand said.
Smartt said he is grateful for the opportunities he’s had so far in his young basketball career.
“I want to thank my parents for getting me into the hoop shoot and for taking me to the competitions.”
On Oct. 15, Hung A Lel Ti Chairman Irvin Jim Jr. spoke at the dedication of a five-mile stretch of Highway 88 from the California state line in Alpine County to veterans of the Vietnam War.