Monday, January 16, 2012

Controversial End to Los Angeles High School Basketball Game Highlights Scoreboard Deficiency

A controversial ending to a competitive game during the Johnnie C. Cochran Basketball Classic may have been due to an all-too common problem with older model scoreboards.

When Serra and Price began their contest on Saturday night, it was a back and forth contest that saw Serra go on a 28-3 run, followed immediately by a 11-0 run by Price. By the game's final possession, Price led 49-47 and Serra had the ball looking for the tie or game-winner.

That's when the controversy took hold. Serra's Emmanuel Ndumanya rebounded a teammate's miss with one second left, immediately jumping back up and releasing the ball as the buzzer sounded for a game-tying layup—or so Serra thought.
The center or slot official opposite table ran over to the scorer and waved off the bucket before dashing off the court.

Though several outlets have made claims that replays are clearcut that the shot was in time, objective review indicates replays are inconclusive as to whether the ball had completely left the player's hand as time expired.

In the end, it might all come down to physics and a glaring deficiency with an old scoreboard.

Watch any NBA game and observe the arena's end of game procedures. In addition to the mandatory red lights located throughout the backboard and scorer's table structures, the scoreboard itself runs in tenths-of-seconds (e.g., 00.4) and officials are graced with instant replay technology—in high definition nonetheless.

Back to the Price vs. Serra high school contest played at the L.A. Center for Enriched Studies, the gym features no red lights on any backboard and high school rules prohibit the use of instant replay outside of state tournament play.

Furthermore, National Federation (NFHS) rule 5-6-2 specifies the primary criteria for judging a high school basketball period over are (1) a red light located behind the backboard or (2) the timer's audible signal, buzzer or horn. Note that the scoreboard's reading of 0:00 is not among the top criteria used to determine the end of a period.

The reason for this is that many older model scoreboards run in full seconds, so while an NBA's modern scoreboard might read 00.4 seconds near a game's end, a similar older scoreboard running in full seconds will read 0:00, suggesting the period has expired when it really hasn't.

In the absence of red lights, that left the timer's audible signal—the buzzer.

In high school ball, scoreboards and their horns for whatever reason sometimes are not completely synchronized. As such, officials often must line up the shooter and scoreboard to determine a shot's legality—a feat that provides a wholly unnatural angle that rarely allows for an unobstructed view of both player and scoreboard.

In a gym with a scoreboard running in full seconds, the challenge is especially difficult when the ambiance prevents a buzzer from being clearly heard.

In stark contrast, a scoreboard's visual display is never masked by crowd noise, though it is by backboard supports and brackets.

For the center official, positioned opposite the nearest scoreboard, this precarious situation proved impossible—no red lights, no tenths-of-a-second, and a difficult to hear final buzzer.

What is a referee to do?

News: Boys' Basketball: Price Defeats Serra when Officials Disallow Basket

Video: Controversial Ending to Price's 49-47 Win over Serra


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