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A 3-point quandary for teams

Some coaches worry new 3-point shootout makes players weary for real game action.

By John C. Cotey
Published February 2, 2007


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NEW PORT RICHEY - To 3, or not to 3.

Apparently, that is the question this week as the Florida High School Athletic Association debuts a new 3-point shootout format at girls basketball district tournaments.

The 3-Point Showdown is set up for each team in the district tournament to enter two participants to shoot 15 balls off three racks set up on the wings and at the top of the key in 45 seconds. The top shooters all advance to Saturday's championship round.

At the Class 5A, District 7 tournament at Ridgewood Wednesday night, Rams guards Amberlyn Gribbons and Ali Carli were uncontested in their competition against Land O'Lakes, which declined to send any shooters. Gators assistant coach Michelle Griffin said the reason was simple - they didn't want their best shooters tired out for the team's biggest game of the season.

The Gators, who only made four 3s all season, did not make one in a loss to Ridgewood.

But Griffin raises a point other coaches have - is any energy expended during the shootout worth the risk?

Wesley Chapel coach Warren Jones isn't so sure. His star player, Clemson-bound Sthefany Thomas, made 10 of 15 3-pointers to advance to Saturday's finals (then scored 31 against Central afterward).

While Thomas is clearly an elite athlete capable of taking part in a shootout without much dropoff on the court, a 6:30 start time for the final competition, combined with a 7 p.m. tip-off for the district championship, has Jones concerned.

"I'll probably pull Sthefany out," he said after his team won its semifinal. "I don't know. We'll see. There are some concerns though."

Unlike the 5A-7 district, where the shootouts were conducted before each game with all the winners expected to return Saturday, the Class 4A-8 tournament at Nature Coast is holding its entire competition Saturday.

That could mean more than just one round of shots for participants, making it a no-brainer for Pasco coach John Edwards.

"If we're in the district final Saturday night, I'm not going to let my girls shoot in it," he said. "If we're not in the championship game, then fine, they can come back out to shoot. But I want them focused on the game, and I definitely don't want my best shooters to shoot any more than they have to."

Ridgewood coach Greg Bollinger brushed off any concerns about his players taking part. He said they are in good shape after a season of playing basketball, and he doesn't think it'll have any effect on their game performances.

He thinks many coaches are just sour on the competition because the FHSAA has been late in notifying them of it, and the rules have changed a few times.

"Our girls will shoot," he said. "I really don't think it's that big a deal."

John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6261.

[Last modified February 2, 2007, 00:08:30]


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