Free throw shooting woes haunted the Bickleton boys basketball team during two league losses over the weekend.
At Lyle this past Friday, the Pirates were defeated 68-57 after the host Cougars ran out to an early 17-11 lead.
"We were always down by at least six points or so after that," said Bickleton Coach Ben McBride. "It seemed like we went through long stretches without a field goal."
Not only did Bickleton struggle from the field, but at the free throw line could only convert seven of 16 charity tosses to further hurt their chances.
The Pirates defeated Lyle earlier this season, but this time the Cougars brought an inside game to stymie Bickleton. "They brought an inside presence and scored a lot of inside field goals," noted McBride. "And we settled for more outside shots."
Cody Loomis scored 19 points and hauled in nine rebounds to lead Bickleton. Tyler Jensen added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Eric Hess climbed the ladder for nine boards and tallied 11 points.
Bickleton got off to a better start against host Yakama Tribal this past Saturday, before losing a close one, 58-53.
"It was really a close game throughout," McBride said. "It was pretty tense and there were a lot of emotions."
The Pirates grabbed a 17-14 first quarter advantage, before giving way to Yakama Tribal in the second stanza. The Eagles used an 18-13 run to cling to a two-point first half lead.
Bickleton was still down only five entering the fourth quarter, but were, again, done in by free throw shooting difficulties.
"I thought our guys played pretty well, but free throws came back to haunt us," observed McBride. "When you only hit 17-of-34 free throws that's a lot of points to leave on the table."
Yakama Tribal, conversely, was almost golden at the free throw line. Lyle Wapshell hit 10-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter alone to keep Bickleton at bay.
Down by only two points with about two minutes remaining in the game, Bickleton tried to steal the ball as Yakama Tribal held possession of the basketball for a minute-and-a-half.
The Pirates finally had to foul as the clock dipped under a minute. Wapshell converted the two free throws to ice the game.
Hess recorded a double-double of 20 rebounds and 10 points to lead Bickleton. Tyler Jensen scored 16 and collected seven rebounds, while Ryan Bravo and Kris McBride tallied eight and seven points, respectively.
Bickleton, (1-7, 4-12) is still tied with Trout Lake for the third and final playoff spot.
The Pirates host the Prosser C squad today (Monday) in a non-league game.
Bickleton travels to Mabton this Friday, before hosting Klickitat on Saturday.