The crowds for three days were good, and there was the usual selection of headline players headed to major college programs on display. Five games were decided by single digits, and two went into overtime, including the final game of the weekend.
Morgan County pulled off the double dip, winning both the girls and boys championships in its classification, and fans saw new faces and regular contenders.
But the 2016 GHSA state basketball championships at the Macon Coliseum won't be forgotten for a while for something else: a foot. The discovery Saturday that the baskets at the Coliseum were a foot farther back from where they should have been became the defining memory for the championships.
GHSA executive director Gary Phillips was in Atlanta on Monday for part of the Georgia legislative session and was unavailable for comment. Basketball is among the duties under associate director Ernie Yarbrough, who is also the coordinator of officiating.
"I know that he is -- as I am, as everybody is -- he is pretty disappointed," Yarbrough said of Phillips, who took over as executive director in the fall of 2013.
Yarbrough said the notification came Saturday from a reporter, not a coach or administrator, and Yarbrough tried to quietly check between the third and fourth quarter of the Class AAA girls championship.
He saw the "X" on the floor under where the middle of the basket should be, and that indeed, it was a foot off. Shooting in a big arena setting is usually a major adjustment for high school teams accustomed to playing in smaller gyms with a wall of some sort just behind the goals. What drew the attention of Yarbrough, and others, was the number of times players were whistled for being out of bounds on the baseline on routine plays.
"I noticed that more than anything," he said. "I thought to myself, 'Is it because these kids are so much more athletic now, that they jump so high that they are coming down out of bounds after a rebound?' "
Yarbrough said he wondered if the situation might have existed last year. The GHSA could have changed the goals for the final three games, which apparently would have taken an hour. But that also would have meant that nearly two dozen teams played on the misaligned goals and six teams would have had the benefit of properly aligned goals.
As it is, all 28 teams played on the same goals.
Reaction has been harsh, from retired Allatoona principal Scott Bursmith demanding in a Marietta Daily Journal story during the weekend that "somebody should lose their job" to broad online bashing of the GHSA, Macon and the Coliseum.
The goal placement, as well as court setup, is a facility task, not a GHSA job, as per the contract. While focus was on the baskets, Yarbrough noted that some lights weren't on for Thursday's games but were fully functional Friday and Saturday.
The weekend's issues added to the discussions, as there are with nearly all championships, about moving the tournament. There have been assorted facility hiccups and a lack of assorted improvements through the years. But the seating is fairly new, as are the scoreboard and bleacher seating.
Moving the tournament isn't as easy as the GHSA making a call and asking for an invitation. Yarbrough said a major issue involving facilities most prominently mentioned -- Georgia Tech, Philips Arena, Georgia and the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth -- is scheduling.
"Here's what (fans) don't understand," Yarbrough said. "Those facilities can't give us three or four days in a row at their site. They just can't do it, and they won't."
He noted that lack of parking anywhere near Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion, especially after the school eliminated lots to build a softball and tennis complex. There are about 100 parking spots on the McCamish property, with the closest lot being across I-75. He said discussions with Georgia rarely last long, and he noted the full schedule at Philips, including the Atlanta Hawks.
There no doubt will be an equally harsh reaction with Yarbrough confirming that the 2017 tournament is set to return to the Coliseum in the final year of a two-year contract. But the goal situation is also likely to inspire more focus to make sure nothing goes wrong in 2017, and it's doubtful much of anything will get overlooked.
"That's part of our contract with them is that they set up the facility for us," Yarbrough said. "We've been there for so many years, we probably took it for granted."
One change this year was the absence of Terry Fahey, a longtime Coliseum worker who played basketball in college.
"Terry, being a basketball guy, I think he took a lot of pride in making sure things were as they should be," Yarbrough said. "I'm not saying that it wasn't this year, because he retired, but that was one of the first things that came to my mind was, 'Doggone, where's Terry?' "
Yarbrough said negotiations with staffers from the Marriott, part of the Noble Investment Group, which manages the Centreplex properties, have been good, with Marriott officials showing interest and being professional.
But there is turnover.
"I know that they're trying to keep that place afloat," he said. "They go through so many changes every year personnel-wise. I don't want to throw dirt on those folks, either. It taught me a lesson.
"I'm not going to take that stuff for granted any more, just because people have been doing it for 20 years that they're doing it the right way."