Henry reaches milestone in Ursuline’s win

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — Jordan Henry scored the 1,500th point of her career in Ursuline’s win over Rancho Cotate Thursday night and, not surprisingly, the milestone came from the free-throw line.

The stats show Henry is the best free-throw shooter in the North Bay League, having cashed in on 143 of 172 attempts this season. That’s 83 percent accuracy.

The senior was 7-of-10 in the 57-39 victory over Rancho Cotate and she wasn’t happy that she missed three.

Ursuline's Jordan Henry (Press Democrat file photo).

“I’m going home to practice my free throws,” she said after the game. “If I follow my routine and use my legs, I should never miss.”

Undoubtedly, Henry inherited her shooting touch. Her father, Scott, still holds the Analy single-season record 22.4 points per game. He played for the Tigers in the mid-1980s.

“My dad started me shooting free throws when I was in fourth grade,” the 5-foot-8 Henry said. “We have a basketball goal in our driveway and we go out almost every day and shoot.”

The first thing her father told her was that to be a successful free-throw shooter, she needed to follow the same routine on every attempt.

The routine begins when Henry receives the ball from the referee

“I start off by bouncing the ball four times,” she said. “Then, I spin it for an instant in my hands and finally I bend my legs to make sure I have enough arc on the ball. I do it the same each time, always have and always will.”

As Henry became more proficient in her foul shooting, her father added a new wrinkle.

“Now my dad stands in front of me and puts his hands in front of my face,” Henry said. “By doing that, he’s making sure that I use my legs to arc the shot. The tendency during a game is that when a player gets tired, they don’t use their legs as much shooting free throws. When I miss, that’s generally what happens. By practicing with my dad’s hands in front of my face, I remember to use my legs.”

Henry wound up with 16 points, seven below her average. She came out of the game in the fourth quarter with her team safely ahead.

McKenzie Mangino was Ursuline’s top scorer with 20 points, nine above her average.

Mangino scored six points in the first 2:30 of the third quarter as the Bears increased a 23-16 halftime lead to an 11-point advantage.

“My shots started to fall in the second half,” Mangino said. “I missed some easy baskets in the first half, but I was happy with the way I played after that. We didn’t play well early and coach (Jeff Paul) said at halftime we needed a wake-up call. We played with more intensity the second half.”

Henry isn’t the only Ursuline player that’s reliable from the free throw line. The Bears cashed in 18 of 22 against Rancho.

Coach Paul stresses free throw shooting in practice.

“We have this drill we do in practice,” Paul explained. “We run for five minutes and then each girl shoots two free throws. If the teams makes less than 75 per cent of its shots, we run again.

“It’s not punishment, it’s just important the girls get in the habit of using their legs to shoot instead of all arms when they get tired. The running is like what they do in a game and this way they can practice focusing and using their legs to shoot.”

When the teams met earlier in the year, Ursuline won 67-42. It was closer this time around and is a sign Rancho’s young team is improving.

“We have three freshmen and three sophomores on the team,” coach Doug Haught said. “We gave Ursuline a much better battle this time around.

“We missed a lot of lay-ups, so we have to work on finishing. The more experience the underclassmen get now, the better it will make us the next couple of years.”
Senior Erin Skinner that led the Cougars in scoring with 17.

“She’s really grown a lot in the two years I’ve been watching her,” Haught said. “Her whole game has improved. She’s learned to utilize her talents.”

Rancho is 7-13 and 3-6 in league.

Ursuline, meanwhile, is still in contention for the NBL crown with a 7-2 mark. The Bears are chasing unbeaten Montgomery. When the teams played earlier on the Vikings’ home court, the Bears lost, 52-51. Montgomery visits Ursuline on Feb. 4.