It can be the loneliest spot on the court.
Fifteen feet away from the basket is the free throw line. Free shots at the basket are awarded to teams as a result of fouls. It should be the easiest points a team can score. That’s not always the case, however.
“That is a problem. Today’s kids, they don’t work on the free throw shooting,” Thomasville boys coach Ben Tillman said. “It is pretty bad.”
Free throw shooting at the high school level can be hard to watch at times because of the lack of efficiency teams are able to convert at the charity stripe. Tillman said his team is shooting foul shots at a 40-50 percent rate. Brad Piazza, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Brookwood, added that both of his squads are shooting free throws at a 50 percent rate.
“I think shooting in general is kind of a lost art,” Piazza said. “You don’t see kids shoot the ball like you used to see them shoot it. I just think free throw shooting is kind of a similar result. Everybody now wants to get to the basket, drive. It’s more of a one-on-one game. I think a lot of that is due more to AAU basketball than anything.”
Piazza’s teams have had their shining moments. His Lady Warriors made 19-of-21 free throws on Thursday in a blowout win over North Florida Christian.
If teams converted more of their freebies, winning games would be a whole lot easier. Against Brooks County in the Holiday Hoopfest in December, Cairo’s girls won 57-46 despite making 12-of-30 foul shots. Thomas County Central’s boys beat Redan 67-56 in the Hoopfest. The Yellow Jackets sealed the game by sinking 7-of-9 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Thomasville’s girls defeated Cairo recently 42-34 despite hitting 4-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter.
For full details, see Saturday's edition of the Times-Enterprise.