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Mills third-grader enjoys own hoops March Madness

It’ll be March Madness on a different level for Taaron Bottley on Saturday.

He’s Florida’s champion of the 8- and 9-year-old division of the Elks Hoop Shoot competition and will be in Valdosta, Ga., for Saturday’s southeast regionals against seven other state winners.

Those winners advance to April’s nationals at Springfield, Mass., where the champion gets his name engraved in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

A Virgil Mills Elementary School third-grader, Taaron has won four rounds of competition, beginning in December at G.T. Bray park, followed by districts in January at MCC. Team Taaron hit the road next for state regionals in February at Cocoa Beach and states at Umatilla after that.

“We’ve been traveling everywhere,” mom Tanicha Bottley joked.

Taaron is “just a regular kid who plays everything,” she said, but the 9-year-old concentrated on his free-throw shooting the past few months.

“I practice every day,” he said.

His stepdad, Jeffery Douglas, has been one of two mentors.

The other was his aunt, Rollins College’s Tabatha Curry, who played at Southeast High.

“She’s coached him up,” Taaron’s mom said.

n Braden River High cheerleader Lauren Routh is 17.

Hooray from parents Larry and Brenda, sister Laini, nephew Brody and brother-in-law Dan Hollins.

n Check out Get Down Downtown from 5:30 to 10 p.m. today on downtown Bradenton’s Old Main Street.

The Wheedles are the scheduled entertainment.

Call Dawn Mishler at 518-4997 for details.

n ““Reels at Rossi Park,” featuring a free movie monthly on a giant screen at the Rossi Waterfront Park, shows Friday evening with “Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon.

Showtime is shortly after 7 p.m.

Folks are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs or park their boat on the Manatee River to watch the movie.

Parking is available at Rossi Park and on the first two floors of the Promenade parking garage as well as downtown.

Call Anna Pohl of the Downtown Development Authority at 704-4366 for more information.

n Entre Nous’ “Attic Sale” is 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 28 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 3200 Manatee Ave. W.

Proceeds support the Entre Nous Treasured Traditions Cookbook Office.

Call 748-8579 for details.

Vin’s People, by local columnist Vin Mannix, runs Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Do you have a column item? A photo you want to share? Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@ Please include a phone number for verification.