Although Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Glenn Farello can point to several reasons why his team has won just five of its 15 games this season, the Raiders' woes at the free throw line may be paramount.
"We've done a pretty good job getting to the foul line -- we're working the ball inside and drawing fouls," he said. "But once we get to the line, that's when we have our problems."
Eleanor Roosevelt has made barely half of its free throws (193 of 346, 55.8 percent), and the Raiders' inability to convert those chances has cost the team victories, including a pair last week.
They were 17 of 28 from the line in a 71-68 overtime loss to Suitland on Jan. 21, and followed that up by making 13 of 23 attempts in a 69-68 loss to Northwestern on Friday.
"If we make our free throws, then there's a good chance those games end differently," Farello said. "But we didn't, and we're just going to have to keep on working on our free throw shooting like we do every day."
The Raiders aren't alone. Only four teams in the Prince George's 4A League entered the week shooting better than 65 percent from the free throw line this season: Laurel (69.9 percent), C.H. Flowers (68 percent), Northwestern (66.3 percent) and Suitland (65.4 percent).
Largo has attempted a league-high 364 free throws and is shooting 61.5 percent from the charity stripe this season -- eighth in the league. Two-time defending league champion Oxon Hill entered the week having converted 221 of its 341 free throw attempts this season (64.8 percent).
Suitland Gets Well
As far as Suitland co-coach Stephany Nolan is concerned, her girls' basketball team's season did not start until early January.
For the first time this season, all 10 Rams were healthy after Nolan and co-coach Thornton Boone spent the first half of the season shuffling the team's lineup to compensate for the loss of of junior forward Raeshawn Mobley and senior center LaToya Butler, who have missed significant amounts of time this season because of ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
Though both returned to the Rams' lineup in a Jan. 7 loss to Oxon Hill, Nolan said she has used the past four games -- all Suitland victories -- to judge the progress of Mobley and Butler.
"I think they are back, and I'd say they are pretty close to being 100 percent out there," Nolan said of Mobley (13.2 points per game) and Butler (12.5). "Now is the time where I can really see where we are as a team because we have everyone pretty healthy and I'll see how well we're playing as a team."
Suitland entered the week tied with Oxon Hill and Largo for the top spot in the Prince George's 4A League. The Rams defeated Largo in double overtime, 81-74, on Dec. 13.
During Mobley's and Butler's absence, senior guard Valicia Brown established herself as one of the area's best players. She entered the week averaging 17.9 points per game -- 17th in the area -- to go with 10 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
"Valicia was hidden last year because she came off the bench and never really got the recognition she deserved," Nolan said. "But as a starter this year, she has really given us that leadership we needed and has been doing a lot of good things out there for us."
Lights Go On at High Point
Though his boys' basketball team entered the week 1-13, High Point Coach Dan Hewins said the team has a bright future -- literally.
The 50-year-old school received a new lighting system in the gymnasium, as each of the 36 lamps was replaced with state-of-the-art bulbs donated by the Independent Electrical Contractors Union, which installed the bulbs on Saturday.
The project, estimated to cost about $20,000, turned what was considered one of county's darkest venues into "a court with the same kind of lighting that you would see at Comcast Center or MCI Center," Hewins said.
"I had spent the past few months trying to get bids for the project, but when the union came into my office and told me that they would do it all for free, I almost fell out of my chair," Hewins said.
A team of 25 workers replaced each of the gym's 36 incandescent light fixtures on Saturday with metal halide bulbs that cost $315 apiece. They also realigned the panels on the gymnasium ceiling, Hewins said.