Even before the ink dried on stories depicting Hedgesville's 33-32 win over George Washington in the Class AAA state championship boys basketball game, cries went up across the Mountain State calling for a shot clock to become part of high school basketball.
That, like many things in sports, is a total over-reaction to an isolated incident.
Yes, Hedgesville employed a methodical brand of basketball in winning its three tournament games in Charleston and becoming the Class AAA state champion.
No, it's style isn't exciting or even entertaining to watch.
But the job of any coach is to put his team in the best position to win and obviously Hedgesville coach Kelly Church did just that. The proof rests in the school's trophy case.
Hedgesville's detractors will point out the team lost to Martinsburg four times during the season, yet wound up as the state champion, which is indeed true.
But Martinsburg lost in the state tournament. Hedgesville didn't. Thus it is the rightful state champion.
Whether or not it is the best team is another entirely different debate. Being the state champion doesn't necessarily mean you are the best team. It means you made it through the state tournament undefeated.
It's likely -quite probable in fact -that had Hedgesville gone to Charleston having to play run-and-gun basketball, it would have made an early exit.
Playing slowdown basketball is a strategy, much like running the ball in football or playing smallball in baseball. It may not be entertaining for fans to watch basketball teams hold the ball, football teams run off tackle plays or baseball teams bunt, but fans must realize they merely are the spectators. The games aren't played for their behalf. They are played for and by the young athletes who make up the teams and represent their communities and their schools.
North Carolina won college basketball titles by employing a four corners offense designed to protect leads by keeping the ball away from the opposition. Such a strategy was available to every other team, yet most -for whatever reason -elected not to take advantage of it.
I've been around thousands of coaches over the years. The truly great are the ones who aren't married to any system but who adapt their system to the available talent. When Mike DeVol led Parkersburg South's football program to 50 wins in five seasons, a great part of the Patriots' success was the ability of the coaching staff to completely change the personality of the team from week-to-week. By doing so, South was able to best take advantage of its foes weaknesses.
There are many other aspects to radically changing a way a sport is played. Like the expense of installing shot clocks in every gym. Like the added burden on officials and clock operators to perform another duty.
Yet, why is it necessary? Didn't we witness a Class AAA game that went down to the wire? Does it matter that 65 or 165 points are scored?
It's fine to have a healthy debate over such issues. But this debate looks rather one-sided.
Basketball is just fine the way it is.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org