The Shot that Never Was

Written by Scott Anderson

Let’s take it back to Wednesday, March 7. It was a crisp, late-winter night- a perfect night to stay inside and go watch a basketball game.

The Seaholm gym was packed with hundreds of people on hand to watch the Seaholm vs. Groves district semifinal game. The two rivals were ready for a good, hard fought game. But little did they know that this would be the most memorable game of their lives.

The game was highly contested right from the first whistle. It was back and forth. Seaholm would take a two point lead. Then Groves would answer and take it right back. Then Seaholm. Then Groves. You get the point.

Each student section was packed. The crowd noise from both Seaholm and Groves fans definitely was a factor throughout the whole game. The Groves fans were decked out in all green attire, while the home crowd was wearing their best beach gear.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Groves found themselves with a five point lead. The Seaholm crowd was stunned. We expected a rout reminiscent of the 23 point beat-down the Maples handed the Falcons back in December.

The Groves section was crazy, and to be honest, they were out-cheering us.

Then the momentum shifted.

Seaholm’s senior point guard Spencer Eick stole the ball from a Falcons player, resulting in an easy fastbreak score.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Eick again came up with a steal, made an acrobatic lay-up over a defender with a foul called.

The and-one play set the Maples crowd into an absolute frenzy. It was almost as loud as Sterling Johnson’s game winning three against Brother Rice earlier in the season.

Eick converted the free throw and the game was tied. Maple fans believed this was the momentum shift that we needed to take the game. We really weren’t worried about the prospect of losing. We thought we had it in the bag.

As the clock was dwindling down, the two teams found themselves still tied. With 30 seconds remaining, Seaholm had possession with score locked up at 45.

Conventional basketball wisdom says to dwindle down the clock to the buzzer to have the final shot.

But we didn’t do that, and this was vital error number one by Seaholm. Junior swingman Paris Bass drove the ball down the court, came off a pick and roll, and forced a panicked mid-range shot with 15 seconds left. The shot clanked off the front of the rim, with Groves rebounding the ball.

The following Groves possession, senior Grant Henderson made an aggressive move to the basket and was fouled by Johnson, giving him a 1-and-1 free throw attempt. Henderson had to make the first in order to receive a second free throw.

Henderson made the front end of the 1-and-1, giving Groves a 46-45 lead. The next free throw was missed, and rebounded by Seaholm’s Bass with eight seconds remaining.

This is where the pandemonium began.

When Bass grabbed the rebound, he made an effort to run over to the ref and call timeout. No timeout was given. He ran even closer to the ref and tried again. And yet again, no timeout was granted.

With a shade over two seconds left, Bass realized the timeout was not going to be called and ran a step or two past halfcourt and threw up a last second heave.

The ball had a high arc, and it appeared on target. But nobody in the gym was thinking the shot was going to go in. The vast majority of the Seaholm fans were angry about the timeout not being called, resulting in a poor final shot.

And then before you know it, all the anger from the Seaholm fans disappeared and turned into pure joy as the ball went right through the net for a clean swoosh.

Every member of The Maple Forest (Seaholm’s student section) immediately rushed onto the floor in complete mayhem. A lot of the fans chased Bass as he ran to the opposite end of the court but I didn’t even run. I just walked slowly to the center of the court with my jaw completely dropped in absolute disbelief.

I had to do a double take to make sure what I just witnessed actually happened. A person couldn’t write a crazier script as an ending to a basketball game with their wildest imagination.

After a few seconds on the court, I looked over and saw the Groves team clapping, jumping around, and high-fiving each other as if they had just won the game.

But that couldn’t be right. The shot was definitely taken before the clock hit zero. Why are the Groves kids celebrating? These were the thoughts roaming through my head.

The confused fans on the floor were quickly cleared and I learned that the shot was called off because of a timeout called by the Seaholm bench with 1.2 seconds left.

Huh? But Bass made two timeout calls with much more time left on the clock. They didn’t give us the timeout call then, why would they give us one with so little time remaining?

The official ruling by the referee was that Seaholm head coach Jose Andrades called for a timeout simultaneously as Bass put up the last second heave.

While many of the spectators argued that a timeout can’t be called as a shot is already in air, the official ruling reads as this: As long as a team has possession of the ball, a timeout can be called. And a possession lasts until the shot either hits the rim or goes in. So technically, the timeout call was valid.

The Groves crowd nervously cheered, knowing they had just caught a monumental break. The Seaholm crowd, on the other hand, wasn’t so happy. Fans were yelling and screaming at the officials- who up to that point were already getting a tough time with several questionable calls.

The resulting play for Seaholm didn’t have the same miracle finish as Bass’ previous shot. Eick was forced to throw up a halfcourt shot that went off the front of the rim to seal the Groves victory.

Now the previous events pose this question: Who is at fault for this poor clock management? Was it the refs? Bass? Andrades?

The majority of the Maple fan base was blaming the officials, including myself initially. But after digging deeper and watching the YouTube clip (which has almost 9,000 views) over and over again, I came up with two different conclusions.

The only mistake the officials made was not granting Bass a timeout as he advanced upcourt with the ball. He made two very obvious attempts to call the timeout, and neither one was recognized.

But the more important slip-up falls on the Seaholm coaching staff. When the game was stopped as Henderson shot his free throws, coach Andrades should have approached one of the officials to inform him that Seaholm planned to use a timeout once Henderson was done shooting, regardless if he made or missed the shots. If the ref knows to be looking for a timeout call, he’ll give us the timeout call once it’s signaled. As simple as that. It’s something every basketball coach knows (or should know) to do.

This exchange obviously never took place between Andrades and the officials, and that was vital error number two for Seaholm.

It’s really a shame that the Maples couldn’t come out on top on the fateful night of March 7, because the opportunity was right in their hands.

But that’s how sports go. Lessons are learned from past experience in hopes to never repeat a blunder of such epic proportion. I guess time will tell if we’re ever going to see an ending to a basketball game as crazy and hectic as the 2012 Seaholm vs. Groves district semifinal. But the way I see it, some things are meant to happen only once in a lifetime.

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