As Saturday’s game at River Ridge showed, when Etowah is in need of someone to make a game-saving or game-winning shot, the junior guard’s teammates often put the ball in his hands.
Down by three points with less than 12 seconds left in regulation against the Knights, Shaughnessy drained a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. Then, as overtime drew to a close, Shaughnessy drove the lane with 6 seconds remaining and drew a foul, sending him to the line.
With the Eagles down one and the game resting in his hands, Shaughnessy made both free throws, capping a 26-point game and giving Etowah its second victory of the season.
When asked why he had become the player to take most of the shots at the most pivotal points of games, Shaughnessy credited the confidence he had gained from the extra practice time that he had put in over the past year.
“I just know that I’ve put the necessary hours in the gym, and I have a lot of confidence in taking those kinds of shots,” said Shaughnessy, who is the averaging a team-high 17 points per game, along with four assists and a 90-percent success rate at the free-throw line. “It’s a great feeling to make those big shots. It feels awesome. It shows me that my hard work has paid off.”
Etowah coach Don Hurlburt said Shaughnessy is one of those players that “have ice in their veins.”
“He is the type of player that wants to be taking the shots at the end of the game,” Hurlburt said. “All the good ones do.”
To feel confident enough to take those last-second shots, Shaughnessy said he spends close to four hours in the gym each day, even during the offseason.
“He’s what you would call a ‘gym rat,’” Hurlburt said. “Every night after practice he is the last one here. Sometimes, I have to turn the lights off to get him to go home. There is no question that his work ethic is outstanding.”
When asked how important a player like Shaughnessy was for Etowah’s success, Hurlburt referred to him as the “motor” of the team.
“Every team has a motor, and for us, Jack is it,” Hurlburt said. “When he is playing well, chances are everyone is playing well.”
Hurlburt felt that, with the amount of work Shaughnessy puts in, he will only continue to improve.
“In the last two years, he has put in an unbelievable amount of work, and I think you can see the results on the floor,” Hurlburt said. “I think he can be a really, really good player because he is driven, passionate and is willing to do what you have to do to be great. I’m proud of the improvements that he has made.”