Five years have passed, but Barrie Eget and Tom Kelly still can toe the free-throw line with the best of them.
In 1986-87, Eget and Kelly had remarkable success shooting free throws during their senior seasons at Crescenta Valley and Burroughs highs.
Eget, a 5-foot-11 guard, established a state record by making 21 of 21 free throws in a game. Eget, who averaged 27.4 points a game to lead the Southern Section 4-A Division, made 39 in a row over three games and shot 73.8% (169 of 229) during the season, despite weathering a 10-for-32 stretch while nursing a pulled back muscle.
"When he was fouled, it was automatic," Crescenta Valley Coach John Goffredo said.
Kelly, a 5-9 point guard, was even more machine-like, shooting 94.6% (105 of 111) for the Indians, who finished 0-10 in Foothill League play.
During one stretch, Kelly, who averaged 20 points a game, connected on 43 consecutive free throws, missed one, then hit an additional 32 in a row.
"Tom is the best free-throw shooter I've ever seen," said Eget, 22, now the girls' volleyball coach at Crescenta Valley.
Said Kelly: "You didn't have to be a great player to shoot free throws."
Recently, Eget and Kelly, 22, now the boys' junior varsity basketball coach at Burroughs, met in an empty gym at College of the Canyons to reminisce about their playing days and compete in a friendly free-throw shooting contest.
Each player attempted 100 in sets of 25 while talking technique between shots. Loser agreed to pay for chili burgers.
"They call it the charity stripe," Eget said. "It's a gimme. Nobody's hassling you. Nobody's got a hand in your face. You can take your time. You should be able to make it. I don't think that either Tom or I were great athletes, we just spent a lot of time in the gym shooting free throws."
Eget made 23 of his first 25; Kelly countered with 24.
"If you shoot them right, the ball will come right back to you," Kelly said. "It's all technique, and I think that's what kids today don't have. They bounce the ball 30 times or they're not balanced. They don't shoot directly in front of the rim. Everything is different."
The contest continued, Eget sinking 55 in a row in one stretch to bring his total to 94 in 98 attempts. Then he missed his final two.
"Can I concede the title right now?" he said with a groan.
Kelly kept pace, making 43 consecutive shots in one stretch and closing with six in a row.
Final score: Kelly 95, Eget 94.