By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SAVANNAH — A buzzer went off with the rudeness of an early-morning alarm clock in the Savannah Country Day gym.
It was the 30-second shot clock and the surprised Effingham County basketball players surrendered the ball and turned to play defense.
“I leaned over to my assistant and said, “I forgot we were even using the shot clock,’ ” Rebels boys basketball coach Jake Darling admitted.
First experiences playing with a shot clock at the SCD Basketball Showcase during the holiday break didn’t seem to make much of an impact on local players or coaches.
Last summer, the Georgia High School Association approved use of the shot clock. It will be phased in slowly during the next two years — teams will vote to use the shot clock in their region play in 2021-22 — but the clock will be in use in all varsity games by the 2022-23 season.
“It speeds you up a little bit, but not too much,” ECHS point guard Caleb Williams said. “Coach was calling the play and we were looking at him and just forgot about the time.”
Ah, time waits for no one. The Rebels’ forgetfulness was easily understandable. The team has little trouble getting into its offensive flow in 30 seconds. The lone violation in the game against McIntosh County Academy came in the third quarter with ECHS leading 41-13. Maintaining structure in a lopsided game probably overshadowed widening the score.
South Effingham’s boys and girls also played in the SCD Showcase, and Mustangs boys coach Jason Napier and girls coach Jenifer Hall both said the shot clock had minimal effect in their games.
“We usually shoot the ball within 20 seconds anyway,” Hall said.
Like a hot potato, Mustangs boys point guard Joell Laldee got caught dribbling the ball when the 30-second shot clock sounded against Bethesda.
“Joell wasn’t here (for SEHS’ first game of the tournament against Calvary) and wasn’t aware of the shot clock and I didn’t make him aware of it. He might have noticed (the shot clock) but thought it was just another bright, shiny board,” Napier joked.
According to the USA Today, Georgia is only the ninth state in the country using a shot clock, which forces a team to take a shot and at least hit the rim within the allotted time during the possession. If a team doesn’t, it turns the ball over to the opposing team.
The NBA has had a 24-second clock since the 1954-55 season and colleges had their first taste of a shot clock (a 45-second clock) during the 1985-86 season.
Initial finance and finding/paying a clock operator are among the biggest drawbacks for high schools.
Competing with a shot clock won’t be a big adjustment, Napier said.
“The way kids play now, looking for quick shots, (the shot clock) is going to impact high school basketball more defensively than offensively,” Napier said. “There will be more defensive strategy than changing your offense.”
Stalling with the lead, of course, will be subtracted from the offensive equation.
But if the shot clock winds down to the last few seconds, players will have the mindset they always have.
“It’s time to score,” Williams said.