A night after going 5 for 10 from the free throw line, Kingman High coach Ron Anthony told Nick Dellacioppa to relax. "You're a good free throw shooter and you are a good shooter," he told the senior.
It was advice that was well received Friday night when Dellacioppa found himself standing at the line with 2.9 seconds left and his team down 61-59 to Mesa Westwood.
All he needed to do was sink both free throws to send the Bulldogs into their second overtime game in as many nights.
It was something that Dellacioppa did effortlessly, even if his nerves were telling him otherwise.
"I've never been so scared in my life that those two weren't going to go in," Dellacioppa said. "It was crazy."
Game on the line
Not only did Dellacioppa sink both free throws to send it into overtime, he proceeded to go 12 of 14 from the line in the extra period to help secure a 75-65 win. The Bulldogs ended up shooting 14-18 from the line in overtime, 36 of 53 for the game as several Westwood players fouled out.
"He puts a lot of pressure on himself to make shots," Anthony said of Dellacioppa. "He sometimes thinks about his shots too much instead of just shooting it. He's a really good shooter, he's probably our best shooter on the team."
Dellacioppa ended the night with 24 points, 19 of them coming from the line.
"We just needed to make them," Dellacioppa said. "When we get into that position we just need to be clutch and make our free throws."
The victory came on the heels of a 47-46 overtime win Thursday against Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain. The two wins put KHS (8-12 overall, 4-6 in power rankings) at No. 30 - six spots out of the final playoff berth with seven games to be played.
"We can't lose another game," Dellacioppa said. "We have to come out and win every game."
The Bulldogs will host Surprise Willow Canyon Tuesday and Flagstaff on Wednesday before hitting the road to Bullhead City Mohave on Thursday and Surprise Valley Vista on Friday.
"These two in a row, I have to give it to the kids," Anthony said. "Two games in two nights and the effort that they have put forth, I'm really impressed."
The Bulldogs took 15-13 lead after the first quarter. Westwood came back to take a 29-24 lead at halftime and held onto a 48-45 edge heading into the fourth quarter.