GREAT BARRINGTON -- The playoffs. A time when hearts are broken, dreams are shattered and players come of age.
For Drury's Molly Moulton, it's more about playing beyond her years in one of the more pressure-packed situations the game has to offer: free-throw shooting.
Don't let her calm demeanor completely fool you, though. She knows what's at stake.
"It depends. If it's a close game, I get a little nervous," she conceded.
Maybe it's just the gym at Monument Mountain Regional High School, but the sophomore is almost a sure thing from the line in the fourth quarter.
In her first postseason game, Moulton made 9 of 16 free throws in the final frame to finish with a game-high 16 points. All 16 came from the free-throw line. In the two games Drury played at Monument, she made 26 of 35 attempts.
Her approach is quite simple, a good bet as to why she's so successful at the line.
"I just try to make it to get the lead up and help my teammates out," she said.
Coach Jay Meehan couldn't pinpoint a moment during the regular season where he gained almost absolute confidence in his little sharp-shooter down the stretch. Perhaps that's because he knew the team would need contributions from everyone to make a postseason run, or maybe it's because Moulton has been performing in the clutch all season long.
Whatever the reason or combination thereof, Meehan continuously put the ball in Moulton's hands down the stretch when the win was anything but secure. Time and again, she made her way to the foul line.
The reason is two-fold.
"Yes because A, she's a good free-throw shooter. And B, she draws a lot of fouls," Meehan said. "She's going to get fouled nine times out of 10. She has put up a ton of free throws all year, not just in these three Monument games."
The consistency she showed in the second quarter, making six straight and 7 of 8 wavered for the first 7:30, but didn't falter in the dying seconds.
Moulton never made more than two straight in her first 10 attempts of the fourth quarter. She missed her 11th and 12th attempts with her team leading 45-39 with 33.5 seconds left. She didn't miss from that point on, stretching the six-point lead to an insurmountable 10-point advantage.
Moulton's older sister, Emily, a senior on the team, opted to not give a long drawn-out speech about what to expect in the postseason.
"I just told her she had to keep her head up and follow through," Emily Moulton said. "It's big for her to shoot up because if it goes flat ... It has to go up. She's a small little thing."
Molly Moulton's sharp shooting from the foul line helped power Drury into the Western Massachusetts Division III quarterfinals against top-seeded Sabis. Free throws may not be as important as they were against Monument, but in the postseason, it's always a good idea to take the easy points, just in case they turn out to be crucial.
"You just have to practice them everyday," she said, "so it's just routine when it comes down to games like this."
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