Albany High boys basketball coach Archie Chatmon said Wednesday the GHSA was not to blame for the jersey-flap during last weekend's GHSA Class AA Elite 8 game against Vidalia in Savannah, but rather on error on his part for not packing both the home and away jerseys for a neutral-site game as he's done for years.
ALBANY — Archie Chatmon said it was all his fault his Albany High Indians had to wear their warm-ups during their 63-49 loss to Vidalia in the Class AA Elite 8 last Saturday night in Savannah.
Chatmon is taking the blame for a strange ruling by the GHSA, which made Albany High wear colored tops in the game against Vidalia at Savannah State, because Vidalia was the designated home team.
Chatmon brought Albany’s home uniforms (white uniforms) to the game, and Albany High was not only told to wear colored tops because Vidalia was wearing white, but was also charged with a technical foul at the beginning of the game. Vidalia opened the game with two free throws and the ball.
Chatmon said Wednesday, however, not to blame the GHSA, but to blame him.
“I had planned to take both sets of uniforms,’’ Chatmon said. “And on Friday night we packed the white uniforms. I intended to pack the road uniforms on Saturday morning, and it just slipped my mind, so when the got there (to Savannah State) we had only one set of uniforms.
“We weren’t the victims. It was all my fault. I should have brought two sets of uniforms. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I always bring two sets of uniforms when we go on the road (for a neutral-site game in the playoffs).’’
Chatmon arrived at Albany High about 7:20 a.m. on Friday to make the 250-mile trip to Savannah for the 8:30 p.m. tipoff against Vidalia, but he said when he got to the school he started getting food ready for the trip and getting his team ready to board the bus, and got so wrapped up in his preparation he simply forgot the other uniforms.
“The uniforms slipped my mind,’’ he said.
The strange part of the entire fiasco is that for some inexplicable reason the GHSA denotes the team at the bottom of the bracket as the home team in games played at a neutral site. The GHSA clearly states on its website, ghsa.net, that the first two rounds of the state tournament, which are played at home courts, the home team is the team in the top of the bracket.
Albany High was at the top of the bracket, and had the GHSA kept the same format throughout the tournament, the Indians would have been the home team. But the bracket gets flipped once teams reach a neutral court.
“I should have read the white book, the GHSA constitution and bylaws,’’ Chatmon said. “And I would have known we were the visiting team. Any time we get in that situation we should consult that book. We were at the top of the bracket and at home during the first two rounds, but once we went to a neutral site, the team at the bottom of the bracket is the home team.’’
Chatmon said he wasn’t upset with the GHSA and commended the officials who ran the quarterfinal round at Savannah State.
“I was pleased at the way the (GHSA) handled it. Everybody there handled it real well,’’ Chatmon said.
Chatmon said the technical foul at the beginning of the game didn’t have an effect on the outcome, but wearing the sleeved — and heavier — warm-up tops definitely had an effect.
“Those are so heavy, and the more you sweat the heavier they get,’’ Chatmon said. “I don’t think the technical foul hurt us, but playing in those jerseys did hurt us. Shooters can be off because of the slightest thing. You could see at the beginning of the game when (leading scorer) Tim (Pierce) missed three gimmes he would have never missed. He had to adjust to shooting in that shirt.’’
Albany High did have another option. Once Chatmon found out his team had to wear a non-white uniform, he started calling coaches in Savannah, and through a network of calls Jenkins High School’s coach told Chatmon his team could wear Jenkins’ road jerseys, which are black and say “Jenkins” on them.
Chatmon’s players, however, didn’t want to wear another team’s colors in the state quarterfinals, and asked Chatmon if they could wear their warm-up tops, which are Albany’s colors — green and orange.
Still, Chatmon’s team, which traveled the width of the state, arrived at Savannah State at 7 p.m. for the 8:30 tipoff. The three previous games ran long and Albany High and Vidalia didn’t tip off until 10 p.m., which would have given Vidalia plenty of time to call someone at the school — which sits just 90 miles from Savannah — and had them bring Vidalia’s road jerseys to the game.
Chatmon said no one at the GHSA thought of that idea, and it wasn’t his place to suggest it.
“We did ask if Vidalia brought two sets of uniforms,’’ Chatmon said. “And their coach said no he didn’t.’’