No. 1 South Atlanta upset amid clock confusion

After South Atlanta High's first regular-season loss to a Georgia team in nearly three years, Falcons basketball coach Michael Reddick wasn't pointing any fingers, other than to say an incorrect scoreboard affected team strategy in Saturday’s stunning 72-67 defeat to Spalding County.

The Hornets (15-2), ranked No. 1 in Class AA, won last year’s state championship behind the lead of the much-decorated Derrick Favors. A local loss is rare.

“It was unfortunate, but I don’t feel like the (scoreboard) issue was intentional,” Reddick said. “It just made for a lot of confusion for us at the end of the game.”

For Spalding (9-6), it was the biggest win in school history. “That win kind of ranks on top of everything else,” coach Cecil Spear said. “It says a lot for our program and what we’re trying to build.”

Here’s what happened:

*With 40 seconds remaining, South Atlanta had possession of the ball with the scoreboard showing 68-68.

*As South Atlanta ran time off the clock to set up a shot at the buzzer, the scoreboard switched to show Spalding ahead 68-67. South Atlanta’s players noticed the switch and panicked, with James Arnold launching a 3-point attempt that missed.

*South Atlanta quickly fouled Spalding’s Rodney Gilbert with 13 seconds remaining. Reddick was confused. “Why did we shoot so earlyand why were we fouling with the game tied?” he asked. His players pointed to the scoreboard, and both coaches went to the scoring table for an explanation.

“The scorekeeper had given us one too many points with about 1:30 left in the game, discovered the error and made the correction on the scoreboard,” Reddick said. “We verified both books and that, indeed, was correct. I just wish the (scorekeeper) had blown the horn or stopped the game to make everyone aware of the correction. We would’ve had a different strategy than (Arnold’s shot) at the end.”

*Gilbert made both foul shots, South Atlanta’s Rashuad Bell missed a 3-pointer, and Spalding’s Chris Mayes made two free throws to seal the win.

“I feel bad about the loss,” Reddick said. “The streak was a source of pride for our program. Maybe it will make us wake up and play the way we need to play. I think our kids take winning for granted. If we play like we are now we’re going to have an early exit from the playoffs, and that’s something we don’t want to happen.”