Charles Mann, the Milton point guard who can’t play in the state basketball semifinals Thursday because of technical fouls called on him in the third round, says he’s losing sleep over the events of his final high school game last week and wonders if officials aren’t out to get Milton, the state’s No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAAA.
Milton, a polarizing team because of the many star players who have transferred into the school to play for a nationally ranked program, plays Harrison at the Gwinnett Place Arena at 8:30 p.m.
‘’It’s affected me a lot,’’ Mann said of the technicals and the resulting two-game sit-out penalty. “I think about it every day. It’s hard for me to sleep at night. I didn’t want my last high school game to end like that. It hurts, especially not being there for my team in that kind of environment in the final four. That was my dream to play for a state championship.’’
The technicals occurred in Milton’s victory over North Gwinnett on Saturday in Carrollton in the AAAAA quarterfinals. Online videos of the second technical call have made the call one of the most controversial in recent years in Georgia high school basketball.
On the first technical, Mann and a North Gwinnett player had contact during a dead ball while getting position for an inbound pass. In the third quarter, Mann broke free on a dunk and was called for taunting.
“The ball got kind of stuck on my arm, and I was just trying to hit it back,’’ Mann said. “I turned around and was ready to play defense, and the official behind me called a technical. I don’t know why. He didn’t see my face. The official in front of me was ready to let us keep playing.’’
The Georgia High School Assocation does not consider appeals over judgment calls such as this one and typically won’t review tape of a game unless there is a protest or complaint filed by a member school.
GHSA associate director and basketball coordinator Ernie Yarbrough said Wednesday that Milton had not asked for a review, but he said he did view a tape of the Milton-North Gwinnett game and believed the calls were correct given the temperament of the game. Players on both sides were seen going at it verbally at times during the game, though no other technicals were called.
Yarbrough also said that the referee who made the call was not assigned a semifinal game, but not because of his performance. Yarbrough said the official’s name had been revealed on an online message board, leading to a flurry of negative calls and e-mails to the official, whom Yarbrough described the official as an experienced college referee and one of the highest-rated that the GHSA employs.
Still, Mann said the outcome made him paranoid that Milton is targeted. The team became a sudden state power in 2008, when future Division I signees Dai-Jon Parker and Shannon Scott moved into the district to join existing stars Julian Royal and Evan Nolte. When Parker, Scott and Royal graduated, the team reloaded this season with transfers Mann and Tevin Glass.
With a victory Thursday, Milton will become on the second boys program in 75 years to reach the finals of the highest classification for four straight seasons.
“I just felt like people just don’t want to see us win,’’Mann said. “I just feel we’ve had a target on us from day one, and they called the game unfair, especially with those two technicals. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t taunt. The other team was playing dirty and did some taunting things to us, and the officials didn’t see it or call it.’’