Prep notebook: Hitting free throws is sweet

By RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

They may be athletes. And the lives of some may revolve around their sport.

But they're still kids. And kids like rewards and sweets.

The St. Henry boys this season had struggled with their free-throw shooting. Entering last Friday's game with Delphos St. John's, the Redskins were shooting 56.6 percent.

So coach Eric Rosenbeck decided to use a program used by former St. Henry coach Fran Guilbault, a Hall of Famer with more than 600 wins: Having each player shoot 25 free throws after every practice, with the player with the best percentage each week getting a candy bar and drink.

St. Henry went 16 of 19 -- including 15 of 17 in the fourth quarter -- to help get a 71-57 win over the Blue Jays to move to 15-1 and into sole possession of first place in the Midwest Athletic Conference.

"Since we've done it, we've been shooting better because teenage boys, apparently, love treats and Gatorade," Rosenbeck said.

HIGHS ... AND LOWS: Old Fort topped 100 points for the second time this year in a 103-51 win over Fostoria St. Wendelin; Leipsic scored 61 points in the first half and rang up 102 points in a 102-62 win over Van Buren; and Bettsville, one of the smallest school districts in the state, was beaten 98-9 by Carey, the second time this season the Bobcats have been held to single digits.

NOTE THIS: After missing three games with a foot injury, Winthrop-bound Keon Johnson returned to score 20 points, hitting 6 of 7 3-pointers, in Mansfield Senior's 75-46 win over Bellville Clear Fork; Hamler Patrick Henry's boys started the season 0-11 but broke out in a big way by jumping to a 31-11 halftime lead en route to a 61-37 win over Montpelier; for the second time in two weeks, Defiance hit 14 3-point shots to tie a school record, Trey Guilliam leading the way with five long-distance baskets and 20 points in the first 12 minutes of Saturday's 79-30 win over Hamler Patrick Henry; Proctorville Fairland's girls have won 38 straight regular-season games; Lisbon David Anderson's girls have made 35 of 36 free throws over the last three games; at 17-0, the Jackson Ironladies are only one win away from tying a school record for most wins in a season; and Defiance Tinora's Derek Drewes scored 32 points in a 68-31 win over Sherwood Fairview.

CHAMPS SQUARE OFF: In a battle of defending state champions, Dayton Dunbar (13-3) handed Cincinnati Summit Country Day (14-1) its first loss, 62-54, during the third annual Cincinnati Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic at Withrow High School on Friday. William Green had 25 points and A.J. Harris 16 for Dunbar, the defending Division II state champ. Summit won the Division III state title last year.

FAST CLOSERS: Napoleon's boys trailed Perrysburg by 23 points late in the third quarter, cut the deficit to 17 through three and then outpointed the Yellow Jackets 31-12 in the fourth quarter for a 57-55 win; Elmwood's girls team was in danger of its first loss but the Royals, down 45-36 with under 4 minutes to play, outscored Genoa 17-2 down the stretch to improve to 15-0; Wellsville's Nate Scott scored 28 points, including a steal and layup as time expired, to give the Tigers a 73-71 win over Lisbon Beaver;

FAST CLOSERS, PART II: In a matchup between two top-five teams in last week's Division I Associated Press poll, Norwalk trailed Toledo Whitmer 40-26 with 3:21 left in the third quarter. However, the Truckers stormed back to outscore the Panthers 25-3 the rest of the game to win, 51-43, and extend their regular season winning streak to 37 games.

Norwalk did not allow a field goal by Whitmer in the final 11:21 in front of a sold-out crowd in excess of 3,000. Norwalk is 39-1 since last season, with the lone loss to Whitmer in a Division I regional semifinal, 40-32, last March.

Junior point guard Ben Haraway led Norwalk with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting. He scored 14 of those points in the second half, and scored half of Norwalk's points in the game's decisive 16-0 run to spur the comeback.

IMPERFECT: Senior Mark Alstork scored 23 points last weekend in Dayton Thurgood Marshall's sole loss of the season against the nation's No. 1-ranked team, Findlay Prep (Nev.). He totaled 24 in a win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and then dropped 24 in three quarters of play against Dayton Meadowdale. On Saturday, he scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter of a 77-73 victory over Toledo Rogers. His strong play for the state's No. 1-ranked Division II team resulted in a scholarship offer from Drake. Thurgood is 13-1.

FOUR DIGITS, TIMES TWO: Portsmouth West's Tori Leader became the first player in school history, boys or girls, to reach the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound mark. Leader, a senior, had 18 points and 16 rebounds on Jan. 24 in the Senators' 60-41 win at McDermott Northwest.

RAISING THE BAR: Hannah Plybon, Orrville's senior guard, passed two big scoring milestones this past week for the Red Riders (14-2).

On Jan. 24, Plybon scored 29 points in a win over Mansfield Senior and set the school's career scoring record for boys and girls, with her total of 1,734 points surpassing 1996 grad Marcell Denson's 1,722.

Two days later, playing at home in Bob Knight Gymnasium, a basket late in the first half of a 67-48 win over Wooster Triway moved Plybon past 1994 Doylestown Chippewa graduate Tonya Smoot (1,745 points) and into first on the Wayne County all-time girls scoring list. The Akron recruit now has 1,754 -- and counting -- for her career.

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