This is why you take thousands of shots in the off-season and scores of free throws at most every practice.
It’s the scenario you imagine when you’re shooting free throws alone in the backyard or an empty gym.
But you cannot duplicate the real-life, real-time situation that Gabby Torres faced in the final 31 seconds of the St. Mary’s-Fenwick game Tuesday night at Woburn High School.
With the game and the season hanging in the balance, Torres swished four free throws to give St. Mary’s an electrifying 53-52 victory over Bishop Fenwick and a spot in the North sectional final Saturday at the Tsongas Center.
Head Coach Jeff Newhall understood the stakes involved in Gabby’s trips to the line. Having paced the sidelines for virtually the entire game, Newhall took a seat at the far end of the Spartans’ bench to watch the drama unfold.
“I had to – that was my good luck seat at the end of the bench,” related Newhall.
Torres already had a fantastic moment versus Fenwick earlier in the season when she hit a late three-pointer to give St. Mary’s a 62-58 win in overtime.
But this likely topped that for the talented junior who wants the basketball in her hands at crunch time.
“It just came down to it – if it wasn’t for Yirsy [Queliz], who made that pass when she was trapped in the corner, I would never have gotten the chance to go to the line,” said Torres. “We practice free throws every day in practice all the time.”
She admitted that there were some anxious moments as she stepped to the line.
“I was very nervous, but I overcame that and we came out on top,” said Torres.
She was true to the routine that she uses at the line.
“I take four dribbles. I turn the ball and I shoot it,” she explained.
Torres said she was proud of her teammates’ execution in the final quarter.
“The key ingredient was that we all hustled until it was over and we kept fighting, and that’s what we did,” she said. “It feels great to do this for the team. I love my teammates and we’re really happy.”
Newhall said the four free throws were not the only Gabby Torres big-time contribution. “She hit that three-pointer that beat Fenwick at the buzzer, so she’s been a thorn in their side this year,” said Newhall. “But what goes really unnoticed is that when Jannise [Avelino] fouled out, Gabby went in and covered Annie Murphy and she didn’t give up a point. Annie is taller, but Gabby was physical and moved her away from the basket. So you could make the argument that Gabby was kind of the key at both ends of the court down the stretch.”