Rams Hope Shooting From Deep Is A Winning Formula


Spencer Baese

George McConkie tries to position himself for a shot against Spanish Fork High School defenders.

Nason Jones, Staff Writer

Scoring in basketball is simple math: one point for free throws, two points for anything inside a line that is 19’ 9’’ away from the hoop, and for those willing to shoot from outside that line, the score jumps to three points.

Apparently, the courage needed to shoot from farther away needs to be rewarded.

Three pointers used to be rare in basketball, with teams preferring to dump the ball into the post and let bigger and stronger players get to work, wearing down defenses.

But today’s basketball prefers math over brute strength.

The Highland boys’ basketball team has adopted this new, math-based approach to the game. The conclusion is very simple:

Three points is better than two.

The team has focused much more on shooting from the outside, continuing the trend of moving past the traditional style basketball. Younger players have watched players like Steph Curry dominate in the world of three-point shooting, as he has hit more than 3,000 three-point shots alone.

“They (NBA shooters) have made a huge impact on the way the younger generation plays,” senior Nathan Johnsen said.

As the boy’s team is just beginning, there has been a clear focus on having the shooters behind the line to give the team as many options for the best shots. In the basketball world of analytics, teams focus on lay-ups or three-pointes. Midrange two-pointers just are not considered efficient shots any longer.

“Our goals are we want to take really good shots for layups and threes, and we have done a really good job so far,” Highland coach Chris Jones said.

Jones has a background spent coaching in the collegiate ranks, and even professionally in Europe. He saw the trends before they became the norm. The NBA had seen this major increase over the years as well. Back in the 2010-11 season, 22.2 percent of the shots taken in the league were three-pointers. Last year, that number jumped to 39.2 percent.

Math is winning. And high school players have watched all of it unfold on TV as Curry, among others, have become famous for their outside shots.

“Curry definitely has had a major impact on the game,” Johnsen said. “All these guys have impacted the game to make it more fun.”

Within all the areas that most shots are taken it can be broken down into shots in the paint, mid-range, and three-pointers. And the mid-range shot percentage compared to the three-point shot is only slightly better. However, when teams can gain an extra point for only a slightly lower chance of making the shot, it only makes sense.

For junior Matt Lambson, shooting three-pointers is something that just came naturally. For being one of the smallest guys on the team, he has easily made up that height loss with the number of shots made.

“I’ve played my whole life and I’ve always been the smallest player on the court so sometimes the easiest way to get shots is really far from the hoop,” Lambson said.

Lambson is not the only shooter that has been a key component. With how the offense is designed, the majority of the players have been behind the line but their tallest player George McConkie to be down low.

McConkie’s presence draws defenders inside, allowing for open shots.

It is a risky style of play, however. An off night of shooting might mean struggling to score. But on nights where shots are falling, opponents might have a hard time keeping pace. But with the number of shooters on the team, the only thing that might stand in their Rams’ way is themselves.

“I think we will be good, we just got to keep shooting the ball we have just as good of a chance to beat anybody,” Lambson said.