KALIDA — Hitting free throws in late games is key to pulling out close victories, and the Wapakoneta girls basketball team fell victim to bad shooting down the stretch.
The Redskins missed the front end of three 1-and-1 opportunities and several more free throws in a 46-45 loss to the Kalida Wildcats.
“I don’t want to say (free throw shooting) was the difference in the game, but obviously if you are going to play like we did in the first half, you need to take advantage of those situations down the stretch,” said Rusty Allen, Wapakoneta varsity coach.
With the Redskins clinging to a three-point lead in the final minute of play, Kalida connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 44. With about 17 seconds remaining, the Wildcats added two points to their total to go up by two.
The Redskins took the ball into the front court, and with four seconds remaining, Wapakoneta head coach Rusty Allen called a timeout.
“We set that final play up to have about three options,” Allen said. “We got the ball into Riley (Culver) who had pretty good position. She elected to throw it out to Sara (Warner), which obviously is not a bad thing to throw it to your leading scorer in the game.”
Warner, standing beyond the 3-point line, elevated and attempted to get a shot off with under a second remaining.
“Fortunate for us they did commit the foul and we had a chance to win it,” Allen said.
Warner had three free throws, if she connected on all three, the Redskins would walk away victorious.
She misses the first.
She now needs to hit both to force an overtime.
Now the pressure sinks in. Make the free throw, force overtime. Miss it, and the game is over.
And no one was more upset than Warner on that play.
A missed free throw at the end is a terrible feeling. The miss is one small play, rather insignificant in the course of a game, but a play you can point to at the end.
“We kind of dug ourselves in a hole and kind of forced ourselves into that situation, going to make it tough sometimes to pull out W’s shooting like that,” Allen said.
The Redskins shot only 4-of-12 from the free throw line, and made only two free throws in the final quarter.
“Free throw shooting down the stretch just kind of hurt us,” Allen said.
Leading the way for the Redskins in scoring was Warner, who had 19 points on the afternoon. Nicole Brown added 14 of her own to the Redskin total.
At halftime, the Redskins trailed 29-21, but in that third quarter, a solid defensive effort gave the Redskins a way back into the game.
They gave up only five points in that third period.
Scoring 14 points in that third period, they went into the fourth quarter with a lead.
The Redskins play Tuesday night at home against Liberty Benton.