Archive for Thursday, February 12, 2004

Opinion: A brutal call

February 12, 2004

A recent girls basketball game between Basehor-Linwood and Immaculata was gut-wrenching.

It was frustrating, disappointing and hard to watch.

But not because of how Basehor played. Yes, the Lady 'Cats lost 34-31, but they showed grit and teamwork.

They finally crashed the boards together, easily having their best team rebounding game. They got out and ran the floor, with splendid passes from Alex Jeannin and solid finishes from Katie Burchfield. Kelly Schaffer threw in some rainbow three-pointers at key points, and Morgan Kenney made all of her free throws.

Unfortunately, all that was overshadowed by the first truly dreadful officiating crew Basehor has seen this season.

Now, I know it's easy to blame the refs after a tough loss. But I've had this forum available to me all year and I've never, until now, used it to criticize officials.

Their job is difficult and usually thankless. I know because I reffed intramurals at KU for one year and found it pretty stressful even though the stakes were as low as possible. But there's just no excuse for the incompetence that the three folks in the striped shirts showed at this game.

Too many times in the first three quarters the ball would bounce out of bounds, and all three officials would simply stare at each other, bewildered. Then they'd get together and talk it over, and at that point you knew none of them really saw it and they were basically just making a guess.

That's forgivable; sometimes nobody has a good angle. But still, you'd hope there would be a higher level of awareness.

Then, in the fourth quarter, the officiating turned into something straight out of the Twilight Zone. With both teams battling for the lead in the last few minutes, a series of ridiculous calls went against the Lady 'Cats.

First, Morgan Kenney was called for one of the most befuddling offensive fouls I've ever seen. Kenney was posting up away from the ball and actually let herself be pushed out of the paint by the defender on her back. The whistle blew, and 90 percent of the crowd thought a foul was about to be called on Immaculata. Nope, it was on Kenney. It was a devastating call that took the ball out of Basehor's hands and put Immaculata on the free throw line.

On Basehor's next possession, Immaculata's Emily Vosseler jumped into the passing lane and tipped the ball out of bounds. Again, none of the refs made a call. Surely, they couldn't get this one wrong. Everyone had seen Vosseler throw her body between the pass and the Bobcat it was intended for. Surely the refs would get it right. Nope, Immaculata got the ball.

Then, with 10 seconds left, the score tied and Basehor on defense, the refs made the mother of all officiating mistakes.

Every ref knows that in the last minute you let the players go and win the game, you swallow your whistle and make yourself invisible unless somebody gets their head taken off. So what did these refs do? They called Burchfield for a petty touch foul away from the ball! Instead of earning the victory, Immaculata was given it at the free throw line without even attempting a shot.

Of course, any coach will say you can't blame the refs for a loss. And yes, there were things the Bobcats could have done better to make sure the game wasn't as close. But the fact is, they outplayed Immaculata, and they deserved to win. If not for the year's worst officiating performance, they would have.

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