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The Press Box for March 4

By Staff | Mar 4, 2020

The Tyler Star News and Wetzel Chronicle sports writers watched three basketball games the past week where the losing team lost at the free throw line. Looking back on the scores for this past season, we found that at the minimum there have been 24 games which could have been won, if our teams would have shot just 65 percent from the foul line. With six boys teams and six girls teams in the coverage area for our local papers, that comes to two more wins for each team.

If we broke it down to which teams got the least wins and the most, a couple schools would be surprised. One school in particular would have statistically won seven more games, another five. Out of all six schools not one shot 70 percent or better as a team. There was one school where the free throws made no difference either way. We will leave it up to the coaches to figure out where you stand, checking your book will show you. Three teams shot under 50 percent.

The other major deciding factor in wins and losses this years was field goal percentage. Among all six schools combined it was close to 33 percent. It was a tough one to figure out, because not all shot attempts were available to us, but based on an average of what we received it was close to that.

Third and last was turnovers. All teams combined committed an average of five more turnovers per game than the opposition. Because nearly everyone played each other, only stats against teams out of our area were counted, games against each other were left out. Some stats were collected from Max Preps, others were taken from the school books, and others were taken by our sports writers locally and from Parkersburg. The Silver Knights shot 12-14 from the line on Saturday, it didn’t make a difference in the contest, but it was a good effort on their part.

Speaking of shooting woes, the Mountaineers have not been to hot either. They hover around the upper fifties in team free throw percentage and around the low forties from the field. I can understand the field goal shooting as most teams play decent defense, but free throw shooting definitely wins ball games.

It’s a practice thing, good shooting free throw teams, spend lots of time at the line. It is also a dedication thing, if you want to improve you have to practice, 100 shots a day. I don’t understand it really, even if you don’t practice as a team, each player needs to be instructed in the proper form and practice on their own. I watched as kids didn’t even know how to position themselves properly at the line. Some were real good at it and still missed their shots. It takes several things to be a good foul shooter, form, release, concentration, and lots of practice.

I would imagine if you asked guys like Mark Winters, Preston Boswell, Matt Wright and Coach Richard Summers, just to name a few, they would all tell you the same thing.

Practice gets it done.

The best high school girl free throw shooter I’ve seen this season is Magnolia’s Kendra Pilant. I don’t even know her percentage, but I do know she has great form and hits in the clutch.

I spoke to coach Huggins on Saturday, and he said, they spend hours watching films, running drills and shooting, but from the free throw line the guys like to step to the line shoot 5 or10 and think that’s all they need.

All the area girls teams are done for the season, but for those coming back next year, spend some time at the line, put up 100 a day, it’ll make a difference in some wins vs losses next season.

The Wetzel/ Tyler News papers will be putting out our All-County Girls Basketball team next week. Grab a paper to see who we have chosen. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com