Exactly When Does A Basketball Game End? HS Team Loses State Title Berth On Egregious Blown Call

  • Rick Chandler

There’s 4.8 seconds remaining in the Girls 3A Region II (Texas) varsity basketball final between Argyle and Celina High Schools, when an Argyle player hits a free throw to put her team up by one. A Celina player then dribbles to the top of the key, shoots, and appears to get clobbered. The whistle blows … but, what’s the result? Let’s watch the fun.

All we really know is what we see in the video, because the refs aren’t talking. After pretty clearly calling a foul (you can hear the whistle before the final light and buzzer, and see the official raise his hand for a foul), the officials talk briefly and then sprint off the court. Game over … I guess.

The worst part of this? No explanation by the refs, even though the tournament director asked for one. Celina appealed the outcome, but the appeal was overturned.

Further coverage here.

All of this begs many questions:

* When is a basketball game really over? It seems here that the refs are saying “We’re not going to allow a title game to be decided by free throws with less than two seconds remaining.” Really? That’s not your decision to make. Call the game as you see it.

* At least one ref had a clear view of the foul. Our only question was if it was intentional — not if there was contact. There certainly was. And it was clearly whistle, then buzzer. If you have a question about the final buzzer, at least consult the timekeeper.

* Most ref associations have rules which urge referees to leave the court quickly when the game is over. But sprinting to your car after a controversial call, which demands some sort of clarification or explanation, just makes everyone look bad. I guess the word I’m really looking for is ‘cowardly’.

* People who say that there might have been traveling or carrying on the final play are missing the point. The ref called a foul. Then they chose to ignore it, and ran away with no explanation.

* As a basketball coach myself, I’m convinced that adding a third ref for big games just gives the crew 1/3 more of an opportunity to f*** up.