The Basketball Team That Never Takes a Bad Shot

The NBA’s most efficient offenses seek out layups and threes. A high school in Minnesota takes the idea to the extreme.

  Sophomore Nick Hansmann of the Pine City Dragons takes a 3-pointer.PHOTO: ANGELA JIMENEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL  

By Ben Cohen

PINE CITY, Minn.—Jake Rademacher made a mid-range jumper in a recent high-school basketball game. But as soon as the ball left his hands, even before it banked in, Rademacher knew it was a bad shot. And his team doesn’t take bad shots.

Pine City High School seeks out only the most valuable shots in basketball: from underneath the rim or beyond the 3-point line. They play as if they’re allergic to all the space in between.

On the night that Rademacher accidentally made his shot from the mid-range, Pine City attempted 64 field goals, and 62 were layups or threes. It was a remarkably ordinary game for the Dragons. Mid-range shots—the sport’s least efficient—account for only 4.2% of Pine City’s attempts. That’s lower than any NBA team or Division-I men’s college team and likely every high-school team in the nation.

“In all honesty,” said Pine City coach Kyle Allen, “that’s even higher than we want it to be.”

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