Grant Gittens’s buzzer beater last Friday night did more than lift Annandale to an unlikely double-overtime victory against Conference 7 rival Lake Braddock. Before his three-point heave sent frenzied students pouring onto the court in celebration, the senior guard ignited an even greater uproar the moment he touched the ball.
The play still echoing through the halls of both schools began under Annandale’s basket with 0.2 of a second left to play in double overtime. His team leading 78-77, Lake Braddock coach Brian Metress had just called timeout to confirm with the referee that the only shot Annandale could get off in time was a tip. According to Metress, the referee confirmed it, and Bruins assistant Cornell Felton reconfirmed it with the official two more times before the players got into position for the final play.
Metress, now in his 30th year coaching high school ball in Northern Virginia, had encountered this scenario before. It summoned a rule that took hold at the high school, college and professional levels when shot clocks were modified to include tenths of a second in the early 1990s. According to Section 525 of the National Federation of High Schools rule book, “When play is resumed with a throw-in or free throw and three-tenths (.3) of a second or less remains on the clock, the player may not gain control of the ball and try for a field goal. In this situation, only a tap could score.”
After reiterating that rule to his team, Metress sent his five tallest players onto the court, three of them standing at least 6-feet-6-inches.
“I said, ‘Nobody leaves the lane,’” Metress recalled on Monday. “‘Don’t guard anybody on the three-point line, don’t guard anybody on a jump shot. Only guard the guys who they might throw a lob to.'”
On the other side, second-year Annandale coach Matt Behne instructed two of his best leapers to prepare themselves for a lob into the paint. He sent another player onto the far wing and told Gittens to stand on the other wing near junior point guard Austin Hall, who would throw the inbound pass.
“You put guys in a position, you tell them what to do, but they’re high school kids, they’re teenagers,” Behne said Tuesday, confirming that he and his players were aware of the aforementioned rule. “It’s a pressure situation. They’re going to try to follow what you say, but you teach guys in basketball to be proactive instead of reactive because it’s all about seeing something and making a change. You have to do that on the fly as you play offense and defense.
“My guy saw five guys defending the one guy we wanted to get the ball to, and he made a decision.” Continue reading Controversial call raises questions about Virginia High School League