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Sparta's failures at free-throw line lead to double-overtime loss at Lady 'Cat Classic


ROGERSVILLE — Sparta’s free-throw woes reached a new low Thursday.

The Lady Trojans’ 9-of-25 free-throw shooting was an overriding factor in their 55-49 double-overtime loss to Webb City in second-round action at Rogersville’s Lady ‘Cat Classic.

Over the fourth quarter and both overtime periods, Sparta missed 10 of 14 free throws. With :04 remaining in regulation and the score tied at 43-all, the Lady Trojans missed two free throws.

“The pressure got to us,” forward Layne Forgey said. “In situations like that, we didn't shoot the best. That's something we need to work on.”

“Our free throws have been awful,” guard Livi Loveland said. ”We practice free throws every day. We spend 30 minutes sometimes just practicing free throws. I think the difference is when we're shooting free throws in practice there is no pressure. We're not good at handling pressure in games.”

Sparta (10-7) entered the contest with no one making free throws at better than a 57-percent rate.

“I've challenged these girls to want to be the person who is in that spot to knock down a free throw to win it, instead of having the mentality of, 'Oh my gosh, I don't want to miss, the game is on the line,’” coach Josh Loveland said. “It's like a hump we can't get over.”

It’s not for a lack of trying, Loveland adds.

We have shot 10 times more free throws (in practices) than I've ever had my teams shoot,” he said. “I don't know what the answer is. I keep trying different things. In practice, I have a lot of girls who are 75-percent shooters. But we get in a game and there's a little bit of pressure, it's between our ears.”

“We've talked about free throws being such a big part of the game — that’s all that is on our minds,” said Livi Loveland, who scored a game-high 20 points. “We just need to relax and make a free throw one at a time.”

Sparta’s only clutch shooting at the foul line came from Mya Fulton. She made two free throws with :29 left in the first overtime to give the Lady Trojans a 48-46 lead.

Remarkably, Webb City walked away a winner, despite being 3-of-16 on its free throws through three quarters.

The Lady Cardinals shot better come crunch time, making 8-of-12 freebies down the stretch.

Sparta squandered a 15-2 second quarter lead.

Webb City scored just 10 points in the first half, before getting its offense going.

Sparta repeatedly sent the Lady Cardinals to the free-throw line. The Lady Trojans had four players foul out.

“Foul trouble plagued us,” Josh Loveland said. “(Webb City) did a good job attacking the rim. But I felt we got nabbed on every hack and slap, while they could be super physical and get away with it. I got frustrated with the way it was called a few times. I haven't had a single starter foul out in 16 games and I have four foul out tonight, I think that kind of tells its own story.”