In more ways than one, last week’s Hoquiam-Aberdeen boys basketball game represented a blast from the past.
Hoquiam’s 52-51 victory came in a classic encounter of trans-Myrtle Street rivals, played before a large and enthusiastic crowd at Hoquiam Square Garden.
By accident, it was also a throwback to the pre-shot clock era in boys hoops.
One of the shot clocks at the Garden malfunctioned on a couple of occasions, prompting officials to order both clocks shut down. By mutual consent of the coaches, the remainder of the contest was played without 35-second per possession time limits.
In fact, the situation should have been handled differently, according to Rick Denholm of the Grays Harbor Basketball Officials Association.
After checking with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association after the Aberdeen-Hoquiam game and a similar incident at a recent North Beach contest, GHBOA representatives learned that some form of a time limit should have been maintained.
The proper procedure, Denholm related, would have been for someone at the scorer’s table to time each possession with a stopwatch. Some sort of warning (probably delivered by the public address announcer) would have been issued with 10 seconds remaining in the possession without a countdown, with the horn sounding when time expired.
The tightness of the contest prevented either the Grizzlies or Bobcats from capitalizing on the absence of a shot clock by engaging in a full-fledged slowdown.
After viewing the game film, however, Hoquiam coach Curtis Eccles revealed that his team had unintentionally taken 42 seconds before launching a shot on one second-half possession.
Both coaches acknowledged that, had the situation dictated, they would have experienced few qualms about employing a delay game.
“We would have definitely taken the air out of the ball,” Eccles confirmed.
“We would have gone back to the Dean Smith four-corners (offense) for sure,” Aberdeen coach Leonard Barnes said with a laugh.
The most famous Harbor stall-ball contest prior to the institution of high school boys basketball shot clock was the Hoquiam-La Center district 2A semifinal at Montesano in 2003.
With two of his top players in foul trouble, La Center coach Forbes Lapp ordered a deep freeze midway through the third quarter of a game that eventually went into overtime. While Grizzly players and fans seethed with frustration, the Wildcats attempted only one shot in the final four minutes of the third quarter and held the ball for the last 3:38 of regulation.
La Center almost succeeded with those tactics, but Jeff Niemi’s last-second 3-point basket in overtime — one of the legendary shots in recent Grays Harbor basketball history— gave the Grizzlies a 33-32 victory. Hoquiam went on to place at state that year and captured the state championship in 2004.
Barnes, incidentally, viewed the Hoquiam-La Center game from a different perspective. He was one of the referees for that contest.