GAC girls coach won’t blame OT loss on possible scoring error

Basketball on court with hoop in the background ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Greater Atlanta Christian’s girls basketball team appears to have been shorted a potentially game-deciding point in the third quarter of its overtime loss to Beach on Saturday in the Class AAA semifinals in Savannah.

But GAC coach Lady Grooms is unsure if her school will make an issue of it, as it probably is a lost cause. Beach out-scored GAC 9-1 in the extra period and advanced to the championship game with a 56-47 victory.

Grooms said she had been conversing with unhappy players and parents since the game ended.

‘’I know y’all want to fight the score, but did you fight in the game? I’m looking at it in a different light,’’ Grooms said. ‘’I don’t want them to rely on that. I’m old school. They out-fought us and deserved to win.’’

That doesn’t mean Grooms was happy about it. She is convinced the score was incorrect and was critical of how the scorekeeper and referees handled it. Any protest to the Georgia High School Association would come from her athletics director or principal, she said.

The point discrepancy occurred with 4:04 left in the third quarter and can be seen on GAC’s live steam of the game and in the NFHS Network’s broadcast.

With Beach leading 28-24, GAC guard Taylor Sutton makes two free throws. On the NFHS Network broadcast, the score is shown as 28-26, then changed back to 28-25 as Beach attempts and fails to in-bound the ball, leading to a turnover.

About five seconds later, Sutton hit a 3-pointer. The game is shown as tied 28-28 rather than GAC leading 29-28. No adjustment was made the rest of the way.

Ernie Yarbrough, the GHSA’s coordinator of officiating, said the GHSA cannot hear protests or appeals about the final score of games once officials sign the scorebook. ‘’High school athletics are not at the same point as NCAA Division I or pro,” he said. “The national federation rules that say there’s no review or replay. We have to go by what the book says.’’

A similar incident occurred during the 2015 tournament involving a boys game. Swainsboro, playing at home in the second round, defeated Holy Innocents’ 57-52 in overtime. Video revealed that the scorekeeper awarded Swainsboro a point on a missed free throw with about three minutes left in regulaton.

In the GAC-Beach game, the scorekeeper was paid, and was assigned by the GHSA’s venue administrator and not affiliated with the participating schools, Yarbrough said. The game was among four AAA semifinals played Saturday at the neutral arena, albeit in Beach’s hometown of Savannah.

In the 2015 game, the scorekeeper was provided by the home team, which is protocol for non-neutral playoff games.

Grooms said she approached the scorer’s desk and referees three times to object to the score but was told it had been checked and was correct and to play on.

‘’It was an error that cost us, but if we’d played the way we should have, we wouldn’t be in this situation,’’ Grooms said. “So I’m in the middle of it. It was human error.’’


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