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Clock will be ticking during holiday hoops

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

Local high school basketball coaches and players will be in action during the holiday break. And a unique wrinkle will be added to their games.

Effingham County’s boys and girls and South Effingham’s boys and girls will play their first games ever with a 30-second shot clock ticking during each possession at the round-robin Savannah Country Day Basketball Showcase Dec. 28-30.

“It’ll be different for all of us, unless there’s a high school coach who coached in college and might be familiar with the shot clock,” SEHS boys coach Jason Napier said.

The Georgia High School Association, the governing body of high school athletics in the state, voted to add the shot clock on June 23.

The shot clock will be phased in during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons with all varsity games and state tournaments using the clock during the 2022-23 season.

At the SCD tournament, teams failing to hit the rim within 30 seconds will turn the ball over to their opponents. 

Napier speculated the GHSA wanted to speed up high school games. Previously, without a shot clock, teams could spend unlimited time before shooting. Teams with leads late in the game could use a stall as a strategy.

“We’ll see how it all works out,” ECHS boys coach Jake Darling said. “Offensively, I don’t think it will affect us that much, but I can see it benefitting us on defense.”

Darling liked the idea of rewarding good defensive play. The Rebels like to press full court and the time opponents need to break the press would give them less time for the offensive possession.

Darling saw that scenario during ECHS’ 55-49 win over Brunswick on Dec. 15.

“There were probably four or five possessions that could have been affected,” he said.

The NBA game is played with a 24-second shot clock. College basketball has a 30-second clock.

Napier said the high school game shouldn’t be forced to follow suit.

“I think every level has its niche,” he said. “How many kids are going on to play basketball in college? But we’re asking all the high school kids to play by the college rules.

“Kids are already impatient. As a coach, you try to teach being patient and getting good shots. But with a 30-second clock, if (a good shot) isn’t there, I think there will be a tendency to get the ball to the best player and let him go one-one-one as the clock is winding down.”

Here’s a look at the SCD Basketball Showcase schedule for the local teams. Games will be at Demere Gym on the Hornets’ campus:

Dec. 28

CHS girls vs. Pinewood Christian, 10:30 a.m.

ECHS boys vs. McIntosh County Academy, noon

SEHS boys vs. Calvary, 3 p.m.

Dec. 29

SEHS girls vs. Hilton Head Christian, 10:30 a.m.

ECHS boys vs. St. Andrew’s, 3 p.m.

SEHS boys vs. Bethesda, 4:30 p.m.

Dec. 30

SEHS girls vs. Savannah Country Day, 1:30 p.m.