Jeremy Mug

Athens Academy’s boys basketball team missed their first shot in overtime. Town County High School dribbled down the court and hit a shot. The Spartans came down and missed again. TCHS did not score the next time down the court.

A turnover by the Spartans gave TCHS another basket and a four-point lead with over three minutes remaining.

It was far from over, but as an observer of the game on Friday night it felt like TCHS had gained control of the game or at least its direction by simply holding a two-possession lead.

The next 20 to 30 minutes (over exaggeration) drug on and on as the Spartans fouled TCHS. We all watched them walk to their end of the floor to shoot free throws before they frantically attempted to find a basket to extend their opportunities. Hopes were that their opponents would miss a free throw and bring them into a one possession scenario.

The Spartans fell to TCHS on Friday night 69-68. Standing in the corner of the Sinkwich Spartan Center basketball court I wondered how different the outcome would have been if Friday’s game was an NBA game or a college game.

There are minor rule differences between each of the levels, but the one I had in mind on Friday night was the fact that there wasn’t a shot clock to force TCHS to continue attacking with their small, two-possession advantage.

How many more opportunities would the Spartans have had to force a mistake by the offense and find easy transition baskets? How many more possessions were there to be had by the Spartans to cut into the lead?

If felt kind of unfair. Why should a team be rewarded because they get the ball first and score first in overtime?

“High school basketball needs a shot clock,” I tweeted following the game.

That was from the fan in me. I don’t have to foot the bill to have the necessary equipment installed to make the change.

Aesthetically, there’s no doubt that high school basketball would look more like what we see on our television sets every night in winter, spring and summer.

There’s a glaring hole in my shot clock dream. What happens to the little guy? Not, little guys in a manner that they are less important, little guy as in the literal little guy.

Prince Avenue Christian School head coach Will Cantrell gave me a different perspective. Cantrell doesn’t want a shot clock. He thinks about it from his perspective. PACS doesn’t necessarily want to play fast.

The Wolverines like playing methodically offensively and put a premium on defense. Shorter time to play offense means less time to work for a better shot and that means more possessions and open floor basketball. Cantrell likes the idea of being up a few points and controlling the flow, though he isn’t against a shot clock.

“I like the fact that if we get up four or five with a few minutes to go and we’re just playing hard nosed defense and you can’t score,” Cantrell said, “we can come down and execute the brains out of the ball and you can’t win. That’s part of the strategy of the game.”

I admit, he has a point and maybe things should change.

Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.

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