TAYLORSVILLE In hopes of improving his team's free throw shooting, Taylorsville head coach Ron Burnside asked his players to try thinking about standing at that line rather than just doing it.
Forward Tibor Tadic said he'd never tried visualization of any kind before the Warriors' coaches asked him and his teammates to give it a try.
"It was nice," said the senior after the Warriors earned their first win of the season against Hunter 64-57. "The first time I was more relaxed than the second time ... But it worked. We made our free throws."
Burnside said the team's struggle with free throw shooting has cost them some close games already this season. One of those losses was in overtime and the team missed seven free throws down the stretch.
"We've been doing a lot of mental imagery," Burnside said. "We still shoot them in practice, but we wanted to get at the mental part, and it's paid off. The last two games, the kids have shot well from the free throw line."
The Warriors may very well have given the game to the Wolverines were it not for their free throw shooting in the game's final few minutes. Taylorsville made 9-of-12 in the last two and a half minutes of the game. It helped them stretch a two-point lead into a seven-point victory. For both coaches and players, it felt good to be on the winning end of a tight game.
"Losing hurts," Burnside said. "I challenged the kids to find a way to win tonight and that's exactly what they did. I hope now they're going to start believing in themselves. We have enough talent, and they work hard. They can compete."
The Warriors had a big game from senior guard Jeff Pratt, who finished with 19 points. He was perfect from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, making 8-of-8. He said while the close losses have been painful, the team is also learning what they need to do to reach their ultimate goal this season - the 5A state tournament.
"It kind of brings you down," Pratt said. "But it's just the preseason and we're still trying to figure things out."
In addition to Pratt, forward Jordan Edginton had a big game scoring 16 points. Steve McCloyn had a huge steal for the Warriors that sealed the win for Taylorsville. He intercepted a pass near the half-court line with less than 30 seconds left in the game and the Warriors clinging to a 3-point lead.
Junior Jeff Poole led the Wolverines with 18, before fouling out with 18 seconds left in the game, and forward Austin Pollock added 15 points in the loss."We're not there yet," said Hunter coach Dave Filimoehala. "We tried to run some things at the end that just didn't work out. We're a work in progress."