LADUE • MICDS freshman guard Zaire Harrell hasn't had the best luck at the free-throw line this season.
Entering a home girls basketball game Tuesday against McCluer North, Harrell had made only 13 of her 31 free throws.
In the Rams' 45-37 nonconference win, Harrell came up big from the line. She made five of six attempts in the fourth quarter to help key the victory.
Harrell said she owes it all to NBA superstar Steph Curry.
“The two big things I've learned from what he does are to take your time — you've got 10 seconds — and to focus on the three net loops at the back of the basket, just underneath the rim,” Harrell said. “I know things haven't been the best, but it sure feels great to come through for my team when it mattered.”
MICDS (7-6) made 11 of 14 free throws in the final quarter to overcome a 29-28 deficit after three quarters. MICDS made 18 of 23 free throws in the entire game.
Rams coach Scott Small credited Harrell and senior guard Krysten Holmes for the ability to stay in the game with their own foul troubles. Still, Small said McCluer North (10-2, No. 3 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) proved to be a formidable opponent.
“I thought his kids did great, I thought they did a good job coming back on us a couple times,” Small said. “More than anything, I thought we had great guard play from kids who had three fouls for much of the game.”
The only lead McCluer North had was short-lived.
A free throw by junior guard Michelle Owens with 5.8 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Stars their 29-28 lead, but MICDS recaptured the lead early in the fourth quarter and didn't let it go.
“We've been shooting a lot of free throws in practice and that is something our kids have worked on in practice,” Small said. “We've been talking about mental toughness and we've played some people close the past couple weeks and I thought we were ready to go.”
Junior forward Jessica Brooks led MICDS with 18 points and Harrell added nine.
Owens led North with 14 points and sophomore forward Samya Johnson added 12 points.
In the last quarter, McCluer North went from zero fouls in the second half to the limit of 10.
“I thought my girls worked hard and that we played really well,” McCluer North coach Pat Dougherty said. “We played great and it fell apart because of officiating, I'm sorry. It's crazy. Not one foul called on them (in crunch time). We are a really good team this year and we should not have lost this game for that reason.”