Citing ‘misapplication of rules,’ GHSA orders last second of Collins Hill-Discovery hoops game be replayed

By Seth Ellerbee

In a ruling that could shake things up in the state’s highest classification, the Georgia High School Association has decided to reverse the result of the Collins Hill vs. Discovery boys game on Saturday, citing a misapplication of the rules.

On Saturday, in a game that had to be rescheduled twice due to weather, Collins Hill walked off the court with a 46-45 victory after Justin Lee made two free throws following a technical foul called on Discovery’s Kalu Ezikpe, a 6-foot-8 power forward and UNC-Greensboro commit.

The foul stemmed from Ezikpe’s punching the ball out of bounds after receiving an inbounds pass from his teammate with a second remaining. The Titans bench pleaded with the officiating crew that the play was not a technical foul, just a change of possession, but the referees insisted it was a technical and awarded two free throws to Collins Hill.

The teams will possibly replay the final second of the game tonight to determine a winner. Both programs are in talks to determine the best time and place for a replay, although tonight seems to be the consensus because Collins Hill (18-2, 6-2 with a win) was already scheduled to play Discovery (10-11, 3-5 with a win).

“We scored with one second to go and (Collins Hill) called a timeout,” Discovery coach Cory Cason explained. “Our basket put us up one point and they called timeout. They had to go the length of the floor to try to score. They threw the ball out of bounds without it being touched and it became our ball again, baseline out of bounds, underneath our goal. When we went to throw it in, (we) kind of threw it up toward (Ezikpe) and by the ref’s determination he punched it toward our goal. By rule, that’s a violation, but the ref called a technical foul. He just tried to jump up in a crowd to get the ball. If you look at the tape it is debatable whether he punched or if he just kind of swatted to keep from the other team intercepting it. He just kind of swung at it and hit it toward our goal and it went really high in the air, kind of. It was his way of deflecting the ball and keeping it from the other team.”

With zeros on the clock, the referees came together for roughly a minute and confirmed the call at the time as a technical foul.

“(The ref) immediately blew the whistle when he made contact with the ball, they conferred for maybe a minute or so and made the determination that the ruling was a technical foul. (Collins Hill) shot two free throws and made them and that was the ball game,” Cason said.

Initially, the GHSA had no plans to consider Discovery’s appeals after being flooded with emails. However, following the referees’ filing a report stating the call was a misinterpretation of the rules and a phone call to the GHSA from coach Cason on Monday, the GHSA ruled that the technical foul, and the go-ahead points, were not warranted and the final second of the game should be played again.

“I spoke with multiple people,” Cason said of his phone call with the GHSA. “I spoke with Mr. (Ernie) Yarborough and Dr. (Robin) Hines both about the event, in detail. The refs, it’s all documented, the refs submitted their report noting that they made an error of application of a rule. The only reason that this was even possible is because it was the misapplication of a rule, it had nothing to do with a right or wrong judgment call. You know, ‘Did a kid step OB, was it a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer?’ This instance, it was the clear, defining end to the game as well, along with the fact of it being a clear misuse of the rule, that’s what I think made things come together. When I filed a report, I didn’t anticipate necessarily getting a change, but I thought it was something I owed the kids.”

The GHSA released the following statement about its decision.

“After reviewing the incident that occurred at the end of the Collins Hill vs. Discovery boys basketball game, the GHSA has made the following ruling: A misapplication of NFHS Rule 9-4 (pg. 58 in the rule book) clearly occurred when the officiating crew assessed an ‘unsporting technical foul,’ rather than a simple violation, for striking the ball with a fist. Since this was NOT a ‘judgment call’ but a clear misapplication of a rule, play shall be resumed at the point of interruption when the violation occurred. It will be the responsibility of the two schools to determine when/where the resumption of play will take place and communicate that information with the local officials association and myself. Additionally, there shall be no added expense for officials assigned to finish the game in question.”

The Eagles sit tied for second with Duluth and Mountain View in the Region 6-AAAAAAA standings, and a loss to Discovery would shift the cluttered top end of the region.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Collins Hill defeated Discovery 61-49 in the regularly scheduled game before replaying the final second of Saturday’s game. With :01 on the clock, Collins Hill in bounded the ball which was intercepted by a Discovery player, giving the Titans the upset victory over the Eagles. Collins Hill now sits at 18-3, 6-3 and Discovery has a record of 10-12, 3-6.

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