Some players have taken it often, some coaches have barely used it at all. But regardless of how individual schools have chosen to employ the three-point shot, it's evident the new field goal is changing high school basketball.

Already, it has helped decide one of the season's biggest games. DeMatha sank eight of 16 three-pointers to come back and defeat Archbishop Molloy of New York, then the nation's No. 1 ranked team.

The Stags took more of the shots than Coach Morgan Wootten usually prefers, but DeMatha's success demonstrated the the shot's potential effectiveness when a team is trailing.

"It's good for the game; I like it," Wootten said. "It makes a great and exciting game more exciting. It opens the middle a bit, and the guards become more prominent. We won (that) game because of it."

But it can also work the other way. A team can quickly dig a hole for itself if it misses too many three-pointers. That scenario has yet to become common, though, largely because most coaches have viewed the shot conservatively.

"We have taken some (shots), but we haven't drastically changed our offense for it," said Springbrook Coach John Barrett. "A lot of teams don't have a (designated) three-point shooter. We don't either, so I haven't thought about it."

W.T. Woodson's Red Jenkins agreed with that assessment, but he questioned the need for the shot. A "basketball purist," Jenkins thinks it deviates from the intent of Dr. James Naismith, the game's inventor.

"A lot of people do not like it, but it's a part of the game and you've got to deal with it," said Jenkins, who admitted it will increase spectator interest. "(To do that) is great, but I feel it should be something in line with the pros and colleges. But not a long shot."

Following the lead of the professional and collegiate ranks, where the shot is a familiar and fan-encouraged facet of the game, the National Federaion of State High School Athletic Association rulers committee approved the 19-foot, 9-inch shot nationwide this season for boys and girls competition.

The new rule may take longer to have a major impact on girls basketball. Whle the distance is comfortable for boys, it may be too far for girls, sakd Holy Cross Coach Joe Gillis.

"We've recently starting working on it. (Girls) really don't have the confidence to make it," he said. "We've been running drills to build confidence, but it's not part of our offense."

Gillis' opinion might change if he saw Rockville's Debbie Shockley, Bladensburg's Karen Chrisp or H.D. Woodson's Valerie Wages. For this trio of bombers, the new shot has been a pleasant development.

"It's the same shot, but you can feel the crowd mroe into the shot," said Shockley, a 5-foot-7 guard who has made 15 of 22 shots from three-point range and averages 25.3 points a game. "I shoot from where I have the ball and where it's comfortable.

"(Rockville Coach Joan O'Brien) knows I can shoot from there, but she's surprised how far out I shoot sometimes. She just shakes her head and laughs."

Among boys, Parkdale's Henry Hall and Lee's Jeff Jividen have displayed the best prowess with the shot. But there are teams, such as West Springfield's girls, that have several good long-range shooters.

"We've been a perimeter team the last three years, so that line has helped us," said Lee boys coach Charley Thompson. "When it came in, I knew it would be a big plus with our three guards (Jividen, Bill Courtney and David Zadaresky). We concentrated on the three-pointer; now it's automatic."

Hall has played in only half of the Panthers' games this year due to disciplinary problems, but he has looked forward to taking advantage of the rule since it was approved.

"Most definitely," said Hall, who averages at least 20 attempts per game. "I've been shooting (from that distance) since the ninth grade. Now that we're playing league games, if everybody gives their share, I can do my share."

Coaches say the three-point shot gives guards a greater role in the game, but the key is having players who can connect from that distance with reasonable consistency.

Most of the coaches interviewed agreed that a team has to shoot at least 40 percent for the shot to be effectie.

It will give smaller teams a chance against the big guys, but whether it will open up the inside game as predicted remaisn to be seen. If the per-game scoring average of NCAA Division I men's teams in 1987 is any indication for high schools, it will increase scoring, but not necessarily from the inside.

The three-point goal may also revive the lost art of shooting, according to Springbrook's Barrett. "Fundamentally, it will make kids learn to shoot the ball better. The art of it was lost; now it's coming back."

And that may catch the attention of college recruiters who eventually will look for players with good range. According to first-year Duke University assistant men's basketball coach Mike Brey, it means when colleges seek a shooter, a long-range player is high on the list.

"Say we need a post perimeter player. Looking for a three-point player is very important," said Brey, who was an assistant at De Matha last season. "When you look at a perimeter player, the first chacteristics are does he have the range as a three-point player, and does he have the ability to pick u the guy with the ball? If he can't guard those players, he can't make it."

Georgetown men's assistant coach Craig Esherick said he doesn't think the rule change has had an immediate impact on who the Hoyas recruit, adding that Coach John Thompson's concentrates on recruiting good athletes.

Brey said the Blue Devils use the three-point shot to balance their offense, "to keep the offense spread and use it as a point of reference."

Most of the coaches interviewed agreed the shot will help the game in the long run, once the players adjust to shooting it. Many feel it defines a player's offensive role and range, and should be used only as needed.

"If it comes up as part of the game, fine. If not, just play basketball," said Brey.

If teams simply played the game as it wasoriginally intended, Jenkins and Barrett would be happy. Barrett wold like to see the shot de-emphasized as a scoring tool, because it takes away the three-point play. As an alternative, he jokingly suggests a three-point free throw if the player is fouled at that distance.

Whatever the case, they all agree on its justification from the fans' standpoint.

Said Georgetown's Esherick: "The fans liked it. After seeing those college games, and the excitement it generated . . . maybe that's why they developed it."