When a magician has only one trick, his act becomes pretty easy to figure out.
Last winter, Spencer Piercefield displayed one of the finest shooting touches in all of Indiana, nailing almost 45 percent of his 3-point attempts and shooting an absurd 93.8 percent (61 of 65) from the foul line.
But there wasn’t much variety in Piercefield’s game then; a whopping 77 percent of his field-goal tries came from behind the 3-point line. So by the time Center Grove showed up at the Seymour Regional, New Albany had little trouble devising a game plan to take him out of the game.
Piercefield was held scoreless, and the Trojans went home.
That experience made him determined to add some more weapons to his offensive game.
“When I’m only shooting 3s, I’m pretty easy to guard,” Piercefield conceded. “That was probably the biggest thing I worked on in the offseason, just being able to get to the rim and then finish through contact, different finishes, whether it’s a reverse or a floater.”
So far this season, the payoff has been immediate.
The junior guard scored 15 points in the Trojans’ first game, an 80-61 win at Franklin, but those points didn’t come in the way that they likely would have last year. Piercefield did hit one 3, but the other 12 points came on drives to the basket.
Piercefield was the Trojans’ No. 2 scorer as a sophomore, averaging 11.6 points, but adding the ability to finish at the basket, or to use the drive to draw other defenders and kick to open shooters, should make him and all of his teammates tougher to stop.
“The thing with Spencer is, he at times can shoot 10 3s in a game, but (against Franklin) he really looked to put it on the floor, get in the paint and make some plays, attack in transition a little bit,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn said. “He changed up what he was doing, and it makes him a lot harder to guard than just being a shooter.”
“Now if teams play me tight, I can drive by them and get in the paint and make plays for myself or others,” Piercefield added. “And if they play off, obviously I still have my shot.”
That shot is among the deadliest around. Last winter, Piercefield made 60 of his 134 shots from behind the arc. Opposing teams still need to account for that. Franklin Central didn’t Saturday, and Piercefield hit three 3-pointers in a 64-38 Trojan win.
A stronger and quicker Piercefield has more options at his disposal now, and defenders who guard too tightly against that jumper could find themselves giving up a lot of layups instead.
“It worked well for me (in the opener), and hopefully I can do it the rest of the season,” Piercefield said.
On the mark
A more dangerous all-around game could help Spencer Piercefield get even more open looks — and he was already a pretty good shooter. A look at his numbers from 3-point land and the foul line last season: