A pair of talented sophomores with bright futures achieved perfection Saturday morning at Schenectady High School as the Gazette Foul Shooting Contest returned to the Pat Riley Center after an absence of nine years.
Mohonasen’s Mason Tallman sank 25 of 25 shots to win the boys’ competition, while Bishop Maginn’s Courtney Lane became the first girls’ participant in the history of the event to register a perfect score. Tallman was five shots better than the boys’ runner-up, Schenectady’s Andrew Cyr, and Lane had a two-shot winning margin over Broadalbin-Perth’s Kaitlin Wood.
While Lane seemed to hit nothing but net on her attempts, Tallman had a number of near-misses that bounced around the rim before falling through the cord, thanks to his soft shooting touch.
“Yeah, I was nervous right up until it went in,” said Tallman, laughing. “I worked a lot on my foul shooting during the offseason, but I really didn’t shoot much after the season ended. I got out [Friday] night and shot a few threes and some foul shots to get ready.”
Each participant got five practice shots, and then began the competition, getting an optional practice shot before five shots that counted at each of five baskets. Tallman opted to take a practice shot at each of the five baskets, and adhered to a distinct routine before each shot.
“The first two I took went in. so I took a practice shot at all five because I didn’t want to change my routine,” said Tallman. “I do the same thing every single time. I check my foot and make sure it’s directly in line with the rim, I take three dribbles, look at the rim and shoot it.”
Tallman moved up from the junior varsity to the varsity halfway through the season, and shot just under 90 percent from the free-throw line. His perfect score Saturday marked just the 12th time in the history of the contest that a boys’ participant had posted a perfect score. The victory also marked the seventh championship for a Mohonasen player, best among all Section II schools. Three other boys, Bill Butterfield (1975), Dave Dagostino (1991) and Bill Male (1997) all won for the Mighty Warriors, while Mohonasen’s Donna Korona captured the first girls’ event in 1981 and Dawn Dagostino won it twice, in 1996 and 1997.
In the girls’ competition, Lane more than lived up to her billing as the best girls’ foul shooter in Section II, making 86 percent of her free throws during the regular season. Even with that record, she had to beat a handful of teammates to earn the right to represent her school Saturday.
“That was part of it,” said Lane, referring to her shooting percentage during the season, “but then we also had a shootout at school the other day with a couple of girls. I made 47 out of 50 to earn the right to get here, and I felt pretty good. I wasn’t too nervous. Well, maybe a little.”
Lane had plenty of chances to get nervous as she missed her practice shot at each of the first three baskets.
“I missed the first three, but I made the final two,” she said of her practice attempts. “Missing them
really didn’t bother me. I just remembered to do my routine. I dribble five times and I tap my foot each time, and then I shoot.”
Lane was a member of the Maginn girls’ varsity last year, and averaged 10 points as a starter this season. She also played on the Golden Griffins’ varsity tennis team in the fall and is a member of the varsity softball team this spring.
Lane joins former Maginn stars Kelly McGraw (1986) and Val Klopfer (1998) as past winners of the girls’ title. Her perfect score broke the record of 24 held by Klopfer and Schenectady’s Jackie Knapp (1995).
Boys’ top scorers
Mason Tallman (Mohonasen) 25, Andrew Cyr (Schenectady) 20, Cody Shafer (Schenectady) 19, Jesse DeMarsh (Hadley-Luzerne) 19, Scott Broekhaizen (Hadley-Luzerne) 18.
Girls’ top scorers
Courtney Lane (Bishop Maginn) 25, Kaitlin Wood (Broadalbin-Perth) 23, Kathleen McLean (Hadley-Luzerne) 22, Ashley Haywood (Ichabod Crane) 22, Erin Leva (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) 21, Jayne Ellis (Hadley-Luzerne) 21.