Charity stripe not charitable in losses

The charity stripe has not been charitable so far for the Yuma High School girls basketball team.
The Indians have played well in starting out the season 5-3, including splitting a pair of home games last weekend, but there has been a glaring disparity at the free-throw line in their three losses.

“I can’t figure it out, to be honest with you,” head coach Jeremy Robinson said. “In the games we’ve lost, the free throws have been lopsided.”
After returning from the Christmas break with a gritty 41-38 win over the Haxtun Fightin’ Bulldogs, last Friday in the Lower Platte Activities Association opener, suffered a tough 48-41 loss to No. Holyoke on Saturday.
Yuma still is sitting in good shape, ranked No. 8 in the Class 2A Top 10 and No. 12 in the Rating Percentage Index. The Indians head to Akron on Friday for a league game, then host Burlington in a non-league tilt Saturday afternoon.
Akron played Wray tough last Friday in both teams’ LPAA opener, eventually falling by 12. The Rams have lost two straight, sitting at 4-3 overall and 0-1 in league play. Wray came out of the break with two wins after losing its last four in December, evening its record at 4-4, 1-0 in LPAA action.
Burlington has struggled so far this season with only one win, but Robinson said the Cougars have been close against some good teams, and have plenty of talent to give Yuma fits.
Hopefully, at least the foul count will be more even.
Holyoke shot 30 free throws, making 16, in last Saturday’s game in The Pit, while Yuma shot just four, making one. It has been the same story in the Tribe’s other losses, to Wray and Eaton. In those three losses, the opposition has made a combined 51 of 91 at the charity stripe, while the Indians have made 14 of 23.
“Either we have to get more aggressive offensively, or not foul as much on defense, or maybe a combination of both,” Robinson said. “Something has to change.”
What does not have to change is the Indians’ effort as they came out of the Christmas break with two more strong performances.
It started last Friday against Haxtun in the league opener for both.
The teams battled to a 20-20 tie in the first half, and were tied again at 32 after three quarters.
A quick flurry in the fourth tilted the game in Yuma’s favor. Emma Rayl hit a 3-pointer, then Lyndsey Mekelburg stole in the inbound pass and dished to Ashley Ibanez for the layup and a 37-32 lead.
That was all the Indians needed to hold off Haxtun for the 41-38 win.
“The cool thing about these girls are they’re gritty, they’re going to hang around,” Robinson said. “They just keep battling.”
The Indians won despite cold shooting, finishing 22 percent from the floor. They got to the line in this game, shooting 16 free throws, but made just seven. They also committed 22 turnovers, but were able to pull down 33 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive boards.
Meidi Reyes had 11 points and two rebounds, Rayl eight points and two rebounds, Lea Richardson six points and seven rebounds, Caddis Robinson six points and four rebounds, Ibanez four points and 10 rebounds, L. Mekelburg two points, Alina Moran two points, Jade Lungwitz two points, Sam Wells four rebounds and Jailyn Mekelburg three rebounds.
Holyoke rolled into town, Saturday afternoon, ranked No. 5 in the Top 10 and No. 2 in the RPI.
However, the Indians gave the visitors all they could handle before Holyoke was able to pull away just enough down the stretch.
Yuma took a 17-16 lead midway through the second quarter on Liddy Day’s 3-pointer. Holyoke then scored four straight, but the Indians kept battling and the teams were tied at 21 at halftime.
Just like the night before, the game turned on a quick flurry in the second half, but only this time in Holyoke’s favor. Reyes hit a trey to give Yuma a 31-30 lead late in the third, but Holyoke’s Vieselmeyer scored six straight, giving the Dragons a 36-30 advantage heading into the fourth.
Yuma kept hanging around but never could get closer than four down the stretch.
“We had our chances, but we’re just not going to win going 30 to four on free throws,” Robinson said. “…To lose by seven and get outshot that badly at the free-throw line, that’s tough.”
Yuma shot better, making 36 percent, but still missed too many from close range. The Indians hurt their cause by committing 32 turnovers.
Robinson made three behind the 3-point arc, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds, Richardson had eight points and five rebounds, Rayl seven points and five rebounds, Reyes seven points, Day three points and two rebounds, Ibanez two points and three rebounds, Moran two points and four rebounds, and Wells one point.
“Like I told the girls, the moral victories are over,” Robinson said. “We are a good team. We just need to take that extra little step over the edge. It will all click and come together.”