PORTLAND – Free-throw shooters from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont will compete at Deering High School on Saturday, March 24 in the regional championship of the Elks Hoop Shoot National Free Throw Contest.

The New England regional is for competitors ages 8-13 who have won state titles. They will be competing for berths to the national tourney Arpil 27-28 in Springfield, Mass.

The Maine finalists, age groups and their sponsoring lodges are: Alec McAlary, boys 8-9, Biddeford-Saco; Peyton Grant, girls 8-9, Sebasticook Valley; Crystal Bell, girls 10-11, Bangor; Colby Esty, boys 10-11, Skowhegan-Madison; Emmett Shell, boys 12-13, Waterville; and Brooke Dawson, girls 12-13, Portland.

Colby Esty, the defending state champion in his division, won the Hon. Amos A. McCallum Outstanding Shooter Award in the boys division with 24 successful shots at the Jan. 29 state finals while Crystal Bell was recipient of the Alan W. Richard top girls scorer honors with 22 baskets.

Six competitors win hot shot crowns

PORTLAND — Dawson Hebert of Caribou edged Kevin Richards in a tie-breaking round to capture the ages 11-12 boys title during a Maine Recreation and Parks Association/Maine Red Claws Hot Shot Competition Sunday.

The competition consists of three one-minute rounds where the competitors shoot to score as many points as they can from five different spots on the court while dribbling and retrieving their rebounds. Hebert and Richards tied at 122 points, with Hebert winning the tie-breaker 55-29.

The competition was for ages 9-15. Other winners were: boys — Jacob Cyr of Old Town (ages 9-10, 127 points), Donovan Savage of Caribou (13-15, 140); girls — Lucia Reidy of Gorham (9-10, 101), Crystal Bell of Holden (11-12, 127); and Emmy Churchill of Washburn (13-15, 102).

Cowboys, Redskins have cap reduced

NEW YORK — Two people familiar with the decision tell The Associated Press the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will lose salary cap space for the next two seasons for overspending on contracts during the 2010 uncapped season.

The teams paid out exorbitant amounts two years ago to get them significantly under the salary cap for the upcoming season.

The losses can be spread over two years, both people said Monday on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t announced the reductions. Dallas and Washington are the only teams affected.

ESPN reported that the Redskins will lose $36 million in space, and the Cowboys will forfeit $10 million. This year’s salary cap is $120.6 million, up only $250,000 over last year.

Tourney teams show grad rate improvement

ORLANDO, Fla. — The gap between graduation rates for white and African-American players at schools in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament shrunk this year — the first such decline since 2009 — according to a study released Monday.

The annual report by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) shows African-American players’ graduation rates increased from 59 percent to 60 percent in 2012, while white players’ dropped from 91 percent to 88 percent. The disparity was 22 percentage points in 2009.

The overall graduation rate for this year’s tournament teams increased from 66 to 67 percent, and there was a 3 percent increase in teams graduating half their players.

Primary study author Richard Lapchick said the improvements were encouraging, but stressed that the drop in racial disparity was in part because of the slight decrease in the graduation rates of white athletes. Still, any lessening of the gap is positive, he said.

“I think since we got involved with (U.S. Secretary of Education) Arne Duncan and (NAACP president) Ben Jealous three years ago there’ll be a closer attention paid to numbers released today,” Lapchick said. “I think for the NCAA and the colleges and universities, the last thing they want is federal intervention of any kind.”

Information was collected by the NCAA from member institutions for the study. The institute reviewed the six-year graduation rates of each school’s freshman class, or Graduation Success Rates, then calculated a four-class average or Academic Progress Rate.

IndyCar announces movie deal with DreamWorks

INDIANAPOLIS — IndyCar is hoping a turbo-charged snail can finish No. 1 at the box office and help draw younger fans to the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar is teaming up with DreamWorks Animation to make “Turbo,” which is slated to hit theaters in the summer of 2013.

The animated movie features an ordinary garden snail that dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500, and gets a chance to do just that after a freak accident leaves it with extraordinary speed.

The film is scheduled for release July 19, 2013, and is the biggest deal yet for IndyCar’s Entertainment division.

Filmmakers hope the racing snail can become as big a hit as the “Cars” series that featured a talking, NASCAR-style race car.

Klitschko has no plans to break Foreman’s record

KIEV, Ukraine — WBC champion Vitali Klitschko says he doesn’t plan on becoming the oldest heavyweight titleholder in history because he wants to advance his political career in Ukraine.

Asked Monday how long he intends to keep fighting, the 40-year-old Klitschko says “not a long time” and will instead “concentrate on politics because Ukraine has huge potential.”

George Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champion at age 45 in 1994, and Klitschko says “I definitely don’t want to break George Foreman’s record.”

Klitschko heads an opposition party called “Udar” (Strike) and wants to become Kiev mayor, a position he missed out on in 2006 when he ran on an anti-corruption platform. He will take part in parliamentary elections later this year.

NCAA provides $400,000 to study head injuries

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA will provide $400,000 to help fund a study into the effects of head injuries in sports.

The National Sport Concussion Outcomes Study Consortium plans to study more than 1,000 male and female college athletes who compete in 11 sports at three schools. Researchers hope to track those athletes after their college careers end and examine the long-term effects of head injuries in hopes of gaining a more comprehensive understanding about brain injuries.

Concussions have become a major concern in many professional sports in recent years, and the NCAA has issued schools a list of best practices to deal with head injuries.

Some schools have used mouth guards and helmet technology to measure the impact of a hit, too.