The Press Box For Jan. 31
It might have been one of the best examples of the worst high school basketball officiating I’ve ever seen. It was almost comical. Here we had a game that was almost out of control, and people were actually taking bets there would be a brawl. We had the referee tell one of the coaches that he (the coach) wasn’t allowed to talk to him. There was rough play with no calls and touch calls with no fouls.
I’m like, “Is this really happening?” Then it did! A player went down in the midst of some rough under the basket physical play. Two refs right there and no call. Down to the other end they went, while the fans are screaming, “He’s hurt! He’s down!” Play continued as the player lay on the floor, holding his knee in pain. Play continues, and people still yelling. One official even shakes his head, “No.” Then, all of a sudden, the whistle blows. There is a sigh of relief. Finally, they realize there is a hurt player.
No. Wrong again. The referee had stopped the game in the middle of the action, so a player could tie his shoe. The coach of the hurt player had rushed to the player’s aid and was given a technical foul for leaving the designated area. It was then that the officials realized there was a player hurt. They stopped the game, and the player was carted off. No problem, right? Wrong again! The officials got together and decided the technical would stand.
This nearly caused a riot. The coach took a time-out to talk it over with the officials, who refused to discuss it. Play did resume; however, tension remained for the remainder of the game. After the game, the officials were asked how they could have not known there was an injured player, what with all the people yelling, including the coach. They simply answered, “We are trained to block out all the crowd noise.”
Now listen, I have been around the game of basketball a long time. I thought I had seen it all, but this took the cake. I’m not down on officials, many are my good friends, and I believe most try to do the right thing. I don’t know what it is, and I just can’t put my finger on it, but something about refereeing a basketball game seems to have changed.
It could be that maybe the rules have changed, or perhaps the game is just so much faster and more physical that it’s harder to control. I don’t know! What I do know, however, is when it starts getting out of hand, someone needs to take control. It is almost sickening to watch an NBA game, way too much rough play. And then some announcer will say, “I really enjoyed the game; the refs let them play.”
Tell me, if you work your tail off to be a great shooter, and someone’s allowed to bump you off balance or hit your arm or hand while shooting, is that ok? I don’t think so; I enjoy a game where the officials stay on top of things.
Earlier this week, there was another incident locally with a repeat offender of the rules. For some reason, his antics are allowed to continue. The recent action by this young man brought people from the stands, and items were thrown on the floor.
Another case occurred up the river, on the Ohio side, in a matchup between a couple small OVAC schools.
After driving the length of the floor, and making a nice move to the bucket for two points, a player was actually shoved and then hit in the face by the fist of an opposing team player. Parents and fans from both sides stormed the floor along with coaches, school officials and teammates. It was a wicked blow to the face that could have, and might have, caused some permanent damage.
I don’t think basketball will ever return to what it once was, and maybe it shouldn’t, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to see more players have less entitlement, or if freshmen didn’t demand starting time. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if basketball players worked harder to get knowledge of team basketball and a basic understanding of the game’s fundamentals. And go into a game with the intent of winning and not injuring other players.
Playground basketball used to be where guys went to get better, where they went because they wanted to be there because it was the best place to prove yourself, to do it on your time and in your free time. Winning meant getting better, and it meant learning the hard way. A lot of that has been lost. One thing we did learn on the outdoor court was respect for each other, and that meant if you hurt someone, chances are you will get the favor returned.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get to some good things happening! The New Martinsville Rotary Basketball Classic was just that, a classic. I always enjoy it, been attending for several years, and each year it seems as if they try to outdo themselves with their hospitality food. Besides the good food and good people, there was the main event. A full day of good basketball. I arrived around 11 a.m. to watch the Paden City girls play Beallsville, Ohio. I left around 9:45 p.m., following the Magnolia-Wheeling Central contest.
That Wheeling Central team is absolutely loaded, and if there’s a better Class A team in the state, I want to see them. Ravenswood is good, but even they don’t compare. I think the Silver Knights, on a good night, can play with the best of them, and I believe they may be one of the teams to make it to the big dance. My friend, and ex-sports writer, Judy Light used to say, “What the heck does the big dance mean?” I just changed that sentence. I originally said “My old friend Judy Light,” and then I realized I better move the “old” part, or I may end up like one of those basketball players I was talking about.
Paden City’s Anthony Newman stepped to the foul line out at Hundred last week and calmly sank two foul shots as time expired, giving the Wildcats a big fourth-quarter comeback win over the Hornets. The ‘Cats had manhandled the Hornets earlier this season at home but found the going a little tougher on the road, as the Hornets led nearly the entire way and took a huge lead into the fourth quarter, before Newman put the game away. I like games like that, and even though they lost a heartbreaker, Hundred stood tall, knowing they had done their best and were a better team than the last time around.
Also, I need to give a shoutout to a well run-Sistersville winter basketball league that just finished up. And congratulations to the winning team. The league is one of the few remaining in small towns across West Virginia, a good example for others to follow and a great way to compete, stay physically active, and stay friends, plus make some new ones. email@example.com