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Freshman hits three free throws to lift Lady Trojans

By: Matt Long
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Kaitlyn Lendrum is knocking down free throws at a 50 percent clip this season, making four of eight attempts, but on Friday she was perfect. The 14-year-old member of Oak Ridge High’s freshman girls’ basketball team practices free throws all the time at home with her dad, Peter, and admits she seems to make more during practice than she does during games. But on Friday, she made all three of her attempts under the most difficult of circumstances: No time left on the clock and her team down by two. Lendrum swished all three free throws, lifting her team to a 35-34 win over Chico in the semifinals of the Whitney Tournament. Oak Ridge had the ball under its own basket with 1.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, trailing Chico, 34-32, when Lendrum caught an inbounds pass from teammate Lindsay Honaker. Lendrum, who was standing behind the 3-point line, had a good look at the basket, but was fouled as she attempted the shot as the final buzzer rang. With all the players off the court, it was just Lendrum and the referee, as she readied to take her first free throws of the game. “I just zoned out the whole gym in my mind and pretended it was just me and my dad shooting in the driveway,” Lendrum said. “I just focused on making them. I didn’t think about the score or the pressure.” Lendrum said she was most nervous for the first attempt, which she made. “After I made the first one, I just tried to go back to my zone and not think about anything,” Lendrum said. She then tied the game and won it with the second and third attempts, in which the ball swished through the hoop, just as it had done on the first shot. After making the final free throw attempt, the celebration began. “I was really excited and everyone ran out on the court,” Lendrum said. “Coach (Lamy) said he was really proud of us and he bent down and said to me, ‘you’re my hero’ so that was pretty funny.” Lamy was impressed with Lendrum’s feat. “With ice in her veins and unexpected collectiveness for a freshman player in that type of situation, she swished the third one for the win,” Lamy said. “Bedlam ensued as the team rushed the court and all the parents in the stands just about blew a gasket. Undoubtedly, it was the most improbable win I’ve ever had at Oak Ridge.” Lendrum’s dad was also thrilled with his daughter’s performance, telling her afterward that he was proud of her and that all her practice paid off.