In February, the West Burlington (Iowa) High Falcons fell in convincing fashion in the team's season finale, victims of a 109-25 rout at the hands of the then-undefeated Danville (Iowa) High Bears. While plenty of eyes were drawn to the lopsided final scoreline, the game's true feat came buried further down the box score: West Burlington attempted 100 3-pointers in the loss. Equally astounding, the Falcons hit just eight of them.
According to the Burlington Hawk Eye's Alex Johnson, the 100 attempts broke the previous national record of 94 3-point attempts in a game, set by the Juniata Valley (Pa.) High boy's basketball team in 1997. And while West Burlington coach Vern Reed may not have been thrilled with his team's shooting percentage from behind the arc -- the Falcons shot just 8 percent, after all -- he was excited about getting his team in the national record books.
"We were right around 103, but I have to watch the tape," Reed told The Hawk Eye. "We knew what a tough task it was going to be against Danville. When we started the season running [the Grinnell offense] we thought at one point of the season we would like to take a shot at the national record for threes in a game.
"We were hoping that coming in averaging 24 or so percent [on 3-pointers], we could make 24 or 25. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but all you can do is try. The kids were excited and got after it, and my hat's off to them."
Crunch the numbers, and the feat becomes even more incredible. The Falcons attempted 100 3-pointers in 32 minutes, an average of more than three attempts per minute. Considering the fact that a high school team often gets only one possession per minute in a game, that mark required plenty of offensive rebounding and plenty of foregone shorter shots. Fittingly, the Falcons attempted three free throws … and hit just one.Grinnell offense to which Reed refers is a modified version of Paul Westhead's legendary "Guru of Go" Loyola Marymount system. Unlike Westhead's form of innovative offense, Grinnell coach David Arsenault's system calls for players to pass up on layups to create more 3-point attempts, all while pressing full court throughout the game and allowing an opponent to lay in baskets once they get close enough to the hoop. Grinnell players also sub on and off the court in five-man shifts, almost like lines of hockey players.
It's a strange concept to watch in action for most traditional basketball fans, but it's also proven successful at Grinnell and a few other programs, giving high school coaches like Reed plenty of reason to try implementing it at the prep level.
While West Burlington may not have pulled out a winning season using the Grinnell system, it did turn some heads with its 3-point attempts against Danville. All but one of West Burlington's points came from threes, with four of those triples scored by Skylar Schmeiser (pictured above), who led the team with those 12 points.
"It was the darnedest thing I've seen," Danville coach Ken Laffoon told The Hawk Eye. "We just tried to play our game."
Of course, as is always the case with Arsenault's Grinnell system, West Burlington's loose defensive style created opportunities for its foe's star players to set records of their own. Danville's Steven Soukup, pictured above, took advantage, scoring his game-high 34 points in a single half, setting a school record for points in a half in the process. Soukup actually hit four 3-pointers, matching West Burlington's leader Schmeiser in a single half.
While the win was Danville's largest of the season, it wasn't its last. The Bears advanced in the playoffs all the way to the Class 1A state final, where they fell to Storm Lake-St. Mary, 74-59.
Neither one of the records set in the game are likely to be broken anytime soon … unless Reed and his staff decide they want to try and set the 3-point attempts record again next year. And given the number they put up against Danville, it would be foolish to put any number of attempts beyond a future class of Reed-coached Falcons.