Although it often is referred to as a charity stripe, the free-throw line has become a torture chamber for St. Genevieve's basketball team.
The Valiants' poor shooting from the foul line (49.2%), was partly responsible for two Santa Fe League losses last week.
In a 57-54 loss to Cathedral, the Valiants made 11 of 20 free throws and they were 7 of 17 in a 61-50 defeat at Bell-Jeff. Even in an 85-49 victory over La Salle, they made only 13 of 32 free throws.
"I don't know what it is," first-year Coach Dave Hoffman said in exasperation. "We've practiced shooting free throws in workouts, but we can't seem to make them in games. It's very frustrating to me and the kids.
"I figured we'd be 9-2 right now if we were a good free-throw shooting team," Hoffman said of his team's 5-6 record. "We've lost four games because we haven't been able to make foul shots."
In an effort to end the drought, St. Genevieve will not shoot free throws in practice this week.
"I think we're concentrating too much on free throws," Hoffman said. "I'm hoping that not preparing for them will force the kids to concentrate more when they're at the line. I know we can't get any worse."
Change in tactics: As the basketball season reached its halfway point last week, Chaminade Coach Mike Lynn gave himself less than passing mid-term grades in coaching techniques--even though the Eagles are challenging for the Santa Fe League title.
"We're still playing a set-up offense," Lynn said. "I'm still coaching us like I did last year when we had Kevin Black, who could almost score at will inside."
Black, a 6-7 center, averaged 22.4 points and 10.5 rebounds a game last season.
Chaminade surged to big early leads against Harvard and Salesian last week but had to win both games with shots in the waning seconds.
The Eagles used a fast-paced offensive attack to build their lead in each contest, then slowed the pace and lost momentum.
"That was my doing," Lynn admitted. "But I finally realized that this team plays best when it runs. Many of our guys are better suited for playing in the open court than in a half-court offense.
"From now on, we're going to run as much as possible."
Gone but not forgotten: When Burroughs opened the Foothill League season Friday at Alhambra with an 82-59 loss, the team played without forward Jeff Barrett, the quarterback on the football team who threw for 2,109 yards this past season. Barrett was on a football recruiting trip to Texas El Paso.
Barrett was instrumental in Burroughs' 76-72 win against Nogales last week, scoring eight second-half points, and Burroughs Coach Ira Sollod said Barrett's absence hurt against Alhambra.
"It's hard to say, because we lost by a lot, but we were definitely missing Jeff's spark," Sollod said.
For Sollod the news does not get better: Barrett plans to make another recruiting trip this weekend to Nevada Reno.
Shooting range: Before the season started, Camarillo Coach John Harbour was guardedly optimistic. Now he's optimistic because of his guards.
Chris Sorich and Sean Young have become outside threats, something they were not when Camarillo played poorly in last month's Beverly Hills tournament.
Sorich has made 61% of his field-goal attempts (62 for 102), including 9 of 15 three-pointers.
Young, after starting slowly this season, made 5 of 7 three-pointers against Channel Islands in a 52-45 victory. He is 40 of 79 from the field and has made 16 of 26 three-point tries.
Forward Tom Carrillo is shooting 52% (71 for 137) from the field.
"It's a pleasure right now for me to work with them," Harbour said. "They're gaining confidence in themselves now that they've had some success."
Camarillo has won five of its past seven games. Both losses in that span came at the buzzer.
Camarillo is a half-game behind Simi Valley after beating Marmonte League opponents Westlake and Channel Islands.
Crowded house: While crowds of 2,000 or more were big news last week at the Notre Dame-Crespi and Simi Valley-Royal games, Sylmar was making its own noise when the Spartans played Verdugo Hills at home.
Sylmar Coach Billy Reed estimated that the East Valley League game drew 150 to 170 fans. The modest-sized "crowd" represented the largest in Reed's two seasons with the program. Although he was gratified, Reed managed to keep things in perspective, saying, "It was the best crowd we've had . . . but that's not saying much."
Transition game: The switch from off-guard to point guard might not seem like much of a transition, but for Thousand Oaks' Kevin Martin and the Lancers, it has meant four victories in their past seven games.
Martin, a 6-2 senior, has averaged 26.3 points a game since switching roles, including a 39-point game and two 30-point games. His scoring ability has forced Coach Ed Chevalier to alter his philosophy.
"I'd like to see balanced scoring, but that isn't this type of team," Chevalier said. "So I've relaxed in that regard and I think the kids are happier in their roles. When it comes to scoring, we'll leave that to Kevin, and the others can get their rebounds and play their defense."
Martin is averaging 21.1 points for the Lancers, who are 4-7 overall, 2-1 in the Marmonte League. After a lopsided loss to Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks defeated Channel Islands and Newbury Park.
Charity line: Chatsworth Coach Gary Shair still cannot explain the two phantom free throws that aided the Chancellors in a 53-50 win over Birmingham on Friday night.
"I haven't seen anything like that before," Shair said.
After a timeout with 2:48 left, both teams headed for the free-throw line. Chatsworth's Larry Tepper went to the free-throw line and was presented the ball by an official.
"When he stepped to the free-throw line, I thought I'd missed something," Shair said. "I know I didn't send him out there. The bench said, 'There was no foul that we know of.' I just said, 'Hell, we'll take it.' "
Tepper's sentiments exactly.
"I figured as long as they're going to let me shoot free throws, I'm going to go ahead and shoot them," he said.
Tepper sank both shots to pull Chatsworth to within 45-43 and trigger a 12-5 closing run by the Chancellors.
"Funny thing," Shair said, "was that the refs missed it."
Birmingham Coach Elliot Turet is not laughing. Turet was less than pleased with the officiating and pointed out that Birmingham was whistled for 21 fouls in the second half while Chatsworth was called for six. In addition, four of the Braves' starting five players fouled out in the fourth quarter.
"I've had games where I felt the officials were really terrible," Turet said. "But I've never had four starters foul out."
Add Chatsworth: Starting forward Erik Merkel, who is averaging 10.9 points a game, will miss at least two games because of loose knee ligaments. Merkel, who was named to the All-Chaminade tournament team, has been replaced by Bryan Addison.
That hurts: Crespi guard Mike Tilkian, who averages 12.3 points and 5 assists a game, has been sidelined indefinitely after undergoing an appendectomy at Northridge Hospital Medical Center early Monday morning.
Tilkian, a 6-0 senior, started in Saturday night's 63-56 win over Bosco Tech but felt pain in his abdomen Sunday afternoon, Coach Paul Muff said.
"It's hard to tell how long he'll be out," Muff said. "He's a senior, so I'm sure he'll want to get back as fast as he can. We can sure use him."
Chris McGee, a 6-3 junior who came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points Saturday, will start in place of Tilkian.
Only forward Bill Foudy's scoring average is higher than Tilkian's, at 12.8 points a game. The loss comes at an inopportune time for the Celts (9-7, 1-2), who face first-place Loyola in a Del Rey League game Thursday.
"It hurts to lose him now," Muff said, "It's do-or-die time in league."
Staff writers Tim Brown, Steven Fleischman, Chris J. Parker, Vince Kowalick and Steve Elling contributed to this notebook.