There are so many aspects to shot selection. I think I will be moved to write about different scenarios as the season continues. I am tentatively considering this to be part one. End of game situations can be difficult for players to understand. Most coaches use the term “time and score” to communicate the importance of recognize the end of a highly contested game. One of the hardest things to learn is how to play at the end of the game with a narrow lead.
Different coaches have different philosophies about remaining aggressive versus killing the clock. There is a fine line between being extra patient as the game winds down and causing players to tighten up and make mistakes in their attempt not to lose the lead.
There are some general guidelines that I think players can play by. Let’s say, for example, you are up by 4 with 2 minutes left in the game.
No contested jumpers/transition jumpers
Contested jump shots are usually not a coaches favorite shot at any point in the game, let alone at the end of a tight game. Shooting a contested jumper can lead to a long rebound, which also leads to a transition opportunity. This also is a low percentage shot, most likely allowing the other team to have the ball without having time run off the clock.
Always take the layup
An open layup is the highest percentage shot in the game. Adding two points extends your lead. Even though time may not come off the clock, you have now required your opponent to need an extra possession to tie the game.
Understand what you need
Being up by 4 points does not require your team to shoot a three. I think there are very few players in high school basketball that would be encouraged to shoot a three, regardless of how open they are, in this given situation. Again, different coaches have different philosophies. But players should understand that with 2 minutes left, the defense will probably become more aggressive. Offensively, you can take advantage of that by penetrating and by cutting if you are off the ball.