During the game, players are trying to pass the ball and shoot with the opponent right there in front of them. At the free throw line, it’s just the player and the goal. In clutch situations, it takes strong mental toughness to make those free throws.
Tuesday here at the Tommy Gunn Gymnasium, the Hawks proved that they had what it took to get it done as they shot 71 percent, going 22-of-31 at the charity stripe in their 62-58 win over the Ashland Blue Devils in the first round of the 1A Boys North Half Playoffs. Shaw improved to 24-5 and will play Tremont in the quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. in Ingomar. Ashland finished its year at 11-13.
“Free throws play a big part in any game, especially during playoff basketball,” Shaw head coach Anthony Davis said. “Our guys stepped to the line, took on the challenge and made free throws which was a big plus for us at the end of the ball game.”
The Hawks’ free throw shooting came in handy when it counted. The Hawks went 14-of-20 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Andre Pruitt had a clutch game for the Hawks on the evening as he scored 20 points and went 14-of-18 from the free throw line. Pruitt also finished with six rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
Ashland battled Shaw hard all night. Garius Scruggs hit two free throws late in the game to put the Blue Devils up 52-50. Shaw battled back as Pruitt hit a basket to tie the game up at 52-52. With 1:52 left in the game, Shaw’s Jermarquis Stimage nailed a basket and was fouled in the process. Stimage made his free throw to put Shaw up 55-52.
After Shaw stretched the lead to 60-55, Ashland’s Dontez Turnage hit a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to cut Shaw’s lead to 60-58. The Blue Devils couldn’t get any closer. Pruitt was fouled with 1.9 seconds left in the game, sending him to the free throw line. Pruitt made both of his free shots to seal up the victory.
Jermarquis Stimage aided the Hawks with 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four blocks, followed by Octavious Stimage with 13 points, four rebounds and four steals and Malik Walker with eight points, five rebounds and four steals.