Matanzas held onto the ball for 86 seconds in one possession on Feb. 8.
On Thursday, Feb. 8, I had my first opportunity to cover Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas’ boys basketball rivalry, when the two teams squared off at FPC. You can read my game story on Pages 14 and 15 of the Palm Coast Observer. But before you do, here’s one piece of information I chose to leave out of my story:
Leading by four points, the Pirates gained possession of the ball at the 2:11 mark in the fourth quarter. But they had no intention of putting up a shot. Instead of running a play, the Pirates sat on the ball.
And sat, and sat, and sat.
Occasionally, one Pirate would toss the ball to a teammate to escape a double team. The Pirates’ intentions were clear: They were going to hold the ball as long as possible.
And who could blame them?
Unlike at the college or professional levels, there’s no shot clock in high school basketball. A team can hold onto the basketball as long as it wants, unless the other team manages to accrue enough fouls to send their opponents to the free throw line.
That’s what FPC tried to do.
The Pirates were finally sent to the line with 45 seconds left in the game. That’s 86 seconds the Bulldogs — who were desperately trying to avoid their first loss to their crosstown rival since 2008 — were without the ball, essentially eliminating any chance at a comeback.
It was almost comical watching a team hold onto the ball for so long. But I felt bad for FPC. I don’t blame the Pirates for using the rules to their advantage, but I think that teams should be forced to give the ball up once in a while.
Really, it doesn’t take much skill to hold onto a basketball. Just about anyone can do it, and it’s not very entertaining to watch.
I like the idea of adding a shot clock in high school. It creates pressure situations and gives players a chance to excel. That’s better for the fans and the players, too.