The West Allegheny girls basketball team held a contest at halftime of a home game last Thursday in which kids in attendance had the opportunity to attempt a half-court shot to win free Moe’s burritos for a full year. The popular burrito chain sponsored the game, which included fans being treated to free chips and queso.
There were about a dozen kids in line, 13-year-old Emma Ruperto being one of them. Ruperto’s father, A.J., was there watching. He’s the treasurer of the West Allegheny Girls Basketball Booster Club.
“The worst thing that could happen is one of the booster’s kids winning the burritos,” her dad said, laughing. “I told her she needed to go last, but somehow that got lost in translation. She sprinted to the front of the line and went first.”
Emma, wearing a long-sleeve shirt and sweatpants, took five steps and heaved the ball toward the basket.
And just like that, she won free Moe’s for a year.
As for the rest of the shooters, there would be “no Moe.”
“I was in shock,” said Emma, who lives in Imperial. “Everyone was screaming for a second after I made it. I was a little surprised it went in.”
Emma is an eighth grader at West Allegheny Middle School with a bright future. She’s already 5 feet 10 and is standing out on West A’s middle school team. Ruperto has athletic genes. Her dad was a starting wide receiver on West Allegheny’s first PIAA championship team in 2001 and went on to play quarterback at Slippery Rock.
The same night Emma made her memorable shot, West Allegheny beat Moon to snap a 37-game section losing streak. Its last section win had come in 2019.
Taco Tuesdays are popular at Emma’s home, but on a Thursday, what is a taco lover to do? Introducing “Burrito Thursday.” With one shot, Emma added another Mexican favorite to the weekly menu.
“I really like them. I can definitely eat one a week for a year,” said Emma, whose mom and younger sister Addie were at the game, as well.
She has already gotten started. Saturday, two days after her feat, Emma stopped by the Moe’s in Collier Town Square to claim the first of 52 burritos she plans on feasting on over the course of the year. Here’s how it works: Emma simply has to go into the rewards tab of the Moe’s app on her phone. In there is a QR code for a free burrito that is good for the week. Once that is used or expires, another code is added. The code is scanned and, just like that, Emma gets a free burrito.
Despite playing a lot of basketball — she also trains with John Vlasic of Drive Basketball — Emma said she hasn’t attempted a lot of half-court shots, only maybe when she’s messing around at the end of practice. But to anyone watching Emma take that shot, she looked like a natural. And to her, it looked good from the start.
“I had a feeling as soon as I let it go,” she said. “It felt like it was high and straight on.”
So, what did she feel like when the ball swished through the net?
“I felt like I was going to get my burritos,” she said, laughing.
Now the question is, will Emma share her winnings or keep them to herself? She and dad have different ideas.
“Emma gets one a week for a full year, and she plans on sharing those with dad,” A.J. said.
Chimed in Emma, “That’s a lie.”
Emma Ruperto buried a shot she will never forget, and that’s the truth.