Originally published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 04:59a.m.

KINGMAN – Free throws are meant to help a team stay in a game, but they can also have a negative impact. That was the case Tuesday night as the Kingman High School boys basketball team couldn’t convert at the charity stipe and it proved costly in a 72-66 setback to Chino Valley.

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Jacob Martel finished with eight points Tuesday night in a loss to Chino Valley. (Photo by Beau Bearden/Daily Miner)

“We’re playing well enough, we’re scoring well enough and we’re doing the things that we need to do to be successful,” said Bulldogs head coach Nick Juby. “But you have to hit the free throws. We’re probably sitting at 2-0 in the region if we make just a couple more free throws here and there.”

Kingman finished 3-of-14 from the free-throw line, including a 1-for-10 mark in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ struggles at the charity stripe couldn’t have come at a worse time as they entered the final quarter with a 61-48 advantage.

The lead appeared safe, but the No. 23 ranked Cougars (7-2, 1-0 3A West Region) kept at it and took their first advantage of the second half, 66-65, with 1:12 to play in the game. Kingman was still within striking distance, but never regained the lead and suffered its second straight region loss.

“I have to give credit to Chino – they chipped away at it,” Juby said. “They didn’t try to go for the kill shot. They were like, ‘We’re going to keep chipping away. We have a lot of time.’ But it still comes down to free throws. We make a couple more here and there and it’s a totally different atmosphere right now.”

But instead the 30th-ranked Bulldogs (3-6, 0-2) were dealt a heartbreaking blow. That didn’t seem to be a possibility in the third quarter as Kingman used a 13-0 run to push their advantage to 56-42 with 2:36 remaining.

“Those first three quarters were probably three of the best quarters we’ve played collectively,” Juby said. “Coming into the season that’s kind of what I expected – just getting stops, flying down, hitting 3s and going to the hole. Just playing really well. And in the fourth quarter we kind of got out of that a little bit and that’s on me. I have to take timeouts, settle us down and try to get us a few easy buckets.”

Easy points were tough to come by in the final quarter and it showed on the scoreboard as the Bulldogs were outscored 24-5. A big part of that margin was the play of Chino Valley’s Daniel Martinez as the junior scored 13 of his game-high 41 points in the final quarter.

“Going in I knew Chino had one kid who was very good,” Juby said. “That Martinez kid can play. He is a very good player. He has size. He has a really nice jump shot and he elevates – it’s hard to block. We were running dudes at him and trying everything, and he was getting his shot off.”

Despite the loss, Kingman had eight Bulldogs finish with at least two points. David Hemenway and Rider Havatone led the way with 12 points apiece, while Matthew Ruggles and Jamal Cash each finished with 10 points.

“It was nice having Rider eligible,” Juby said. “He transferred over and he had been sitting out. This was the first one he was eligible for and he’s been chomping at the bit. He took 13 shots in his first game.”

Kingman returns to the floor at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 4 ranked Wickenburg (7-0, 1-0).

“I have a good feeling that free-throw wise we’re going to look pretty good Friday,” Juby said. “I know these guys and they’ll be bound and determined to shoot better free throws.”