Pine City basketball team breaks game down to a science

When you walk through the doors to their gym, the Pine City High School boys basketball will be waiting for you. That’s where you find out that “threes” are good company.

At a time in basketball when three-point shots are at the peak of the their popularity, the Dragons take that notion to the extreme with 94 percent of their field goals coming from behind the arc, or as a lay-up.

“I did have someone send me an email to tell me that I was ruining the game of basketball,” Pine City head coach Kyle Allen said with laughter. “We’re not trying to undo the beauty of basketball, we’re just trying to make it a little prettier.”

The concept seems crazy, but Allen’s process is simple at closer inspection on the court.

“If you’re going to take a 15-foot jumper, why not shoot a three?” Allen said.

The “three” is just one of the many numbers the Dragons focus on. From hand-written stats by managers and assistant coaches to a computer program used to track every shot from games, Pine City keeps track of 100-plus stats. All of those numbers are plugged into an equation to evaluate the team as a whole, and individually.

“We talk about playing the percentages in everything we do,” Allen said. “If you can get the boys to work on three pointers, practice them and shoot them at a decent rate it’s worth a better percentage because it is worth an extra point.”

Allen accounts for everything when analyzing his team. No player is taller than 6-foot-1 inch, so he accounts for that. He makes every player shoot 100 three-pointers each practice, their results go into that equation too. You name it and Pine City takes it into consideration.

But of all of the numbers that go into this experiment, the conclusion is an easy answer.

“Threes are worth more than twos!” guard Austin Hansmann said. “It’s simple math.”

Some nights the Dragons are on fire, but there are nights where they cool down from three-point land, too.

“It goes in bunches,” Pine City assistant coach Jason Rademacher said. “You may miss a couple of threes, maybe miss four or five in a row and you’re thinking ‘are we doing the right thing?’”

It’s all about taking a chance on a crazy concept and trusting Allen’s process of probability.

“People sometimes look at this and think we’re trying to say ‘100% of the time this works’, and that’s not the case because that’s not probability,” Allen said. “We go on runs and statistics always even out, the percentages will always even themselves out. We’re at a point where the boys almost get a little excited when we don’t have a good night because they feel they will have a great one moving forward.”

 And maybe, just maybe, those shots from distance can help Pine City go the distance to their dream destination.

“That’s our goal every year, to put a year on the [championship] banner,” Allen said. “Our goal is to win games and we go one at a time. We try to look at the numbers and we try to let the numbers speak for themselves.”