Milton’s Julian Royal made two foul shots with no time remaining in a controversial 52-51 win over Norcross in Saturday’s Class AAAAA quarterfinals at West Georgia.
Only moments earlier, Norcross thought it had pulled off the upset and celebrated wildly after the sound of the final buzzer. However, as Norcross coach Jesse McMillan started walking toward the Milton bench to shake hands, the referees huddled on the side of the court.
“There was a scramble situation around the rim, maybe we fouled them or maybe we didn’t — that’s the ref’s call,” McMillan said. “The situation was that (one) referee called a foul as the horn sounded.
“(The other two) referees had waved the ballgame off, but the other one said he had a foul. He called a hold on us.”
The officiating crew eventually ruled that Royal had been fouled while fighting for a rebound before the buzzer had sounded. The referees cleared the court because time had expired, and awarded two free throws to Royal, who calmly made both with fans from both teams screaming as loud as they could.
Even Milton coach David Boyd admitted he had never experienced an ending like that one.
“No, time had not expired (before the foul was called),” Boyd insisted, “I was battling the whole way for the foul. I saw the official call the play while there was time on the clock. That’s what I saw.”
It was a bizarre turn of emotions for Norcross, which went from big smiles and high fives to tears and hanging heads. McMillan said he trusted that the referee blew his whistle before the final buzzer, but if there was a foul, then there should’ve been time on the clock.
“I don’t think it should’ve been more than one second, but there should’ve been (something),” he said. “At least you give the kids a chance to throw it the length of the court to make a miracle shot.
“The explanation I got from the ref was ‘We don’t have replay, so there is no way to say how much time we should put on there.’ He explained it the best he could.”
Norcross forward E. Victor Nickerson made two free throws to give the Blue Devils a 51-50 lead with 10.2 seconds left. Milton rushed down the court, with Shannon Scott (committed to Ohio State) losing track of time and launching a 30-footer with about six seconds left. Milton’s Jordan Lloyd fought for the offense rebound and missed a short jumper, leading up to dramatic ending.
“I have never won a game with no time showing on the clock,” Boyd said. “I just told the team we’ll take advantage of (this game). We’re in the state semifinals … that’s about all you can say.”
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