You don’t have to pay for them. They are complimentary. You can take as many as you are allowed. You aren’t going to get defended. You will have no hands in your face.
All you have to do is make them.
So why is free throw shooting such a sore subject for some teams? If Northwest girls basketball coach Rusty Johnson knew the answer, he wouldn’t be shaking his head as much if the Lady Texans (9-9, 1-4 in District 4-5A) were just credible shooting them in a couple of games.
Had Northwest even been 50 percent at the stripe it probably would be looking at a 3-2 district record. A horrifying 4-for-16 effort cost the Lady Texans – along with an overall nightmarish performance in the fourth quarter – in their 44-41 loss to Keller Fossil Ridge. They were 5-of-18 in last Friday’s 31-27 loss to Keller Timber Creek. Northwest’s team free throw shooting fell to below 50 percent for the season.
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“Free throws are like riding a bike,” Johnson said. “They can become a repetitive thing. But they can start to become mental too. There are coaches who talk about it and there are coaches overtalk it. At this point, whatever I’ve been doing hasn’t helped. But I truly believe that we can change that going into the final nine games of the season.”
Northwest played host to Richland on Tuesday and closes the first half of district play at Keller Central on Friday.
Johnson knows he has a team that has to value every possession. The program is not ready to become an open-floor group. The Lady Texans are going to have to keep games in the 40s and 30s in order to give themselves a chance to win.
On that front, mission accomplished, because all but the Carroll game (a 58-23 loss) has been settled in that range. Northwest has lost the other three by a total of 13 points. Playing close isn’t a moral victory. But the Lady Texans appear to be closing the gap with the rest of the district.
“When you’re in low scoring games everything is tight,” Johnson said. “We’re getting to the line and giving ourselves a chance. What we have to do is work on the little things. We keep getting great effort from our kids. The battle is uphill but we’re still doing the things we need to do to be competitive.”
0 and 13
Senior post Briana Barnhill had one odd scoring sheet against Timber Creek. She didn’t score but collected 13 rebounds. Barnhill fought through last week with stomach virus, Johnson said.
“She couldn’t get a shot to go down, but she was a force on the boards,” Johnson said. “But she was great for us on defense. Every shot against her in the paint was contested.”
Byron Nelson update
A 45-42 loss to Denton Guyer left the Lady Bobcats (16-5, 3-2) in a disappointing position before the team traveled to Wichita Falls on Tuesday.
The frustration stems from the fact this team lost to both district title contenders Wichita Falls Rider and Guyer at home. Now, the Lady Bobcats have to make the return trip to those venues.
“We may have to move our home games to our auxiliary gym,” Nelson coach Darren Wilson said with a laugh. “But for some reason, we play better on the road. When you look at it, we’re 10-2 away from home. We’re more comfortable. Maybe we’re just road warriors.”
Nelson finishes the first half of district play at home Friday against White Settlement Brewer.