For the record, I am pretty much in the center of the two sides of this situation. Can see it both ways.
We’re talking about a changed call by the officials in the ‘Iolani vs. Maryknoll basketball game on Wednesday night.
Spartans coach Kelly Grant was upset. Meanwhile, Raiders coach Dean Shimamoto was doing whatever he could to help his team by letting the officials know what he understood high school basketball rules to be.
High-profile spectators (who shall go unnamed here due to the sensitivity of the subject) from the Hawaii basketball community who watched the game had different opinions afterward.
One, a former high school player, didn’t think the officiating or the calls were bad, and said, “Whatever happens, they’re doing whatever they think is right and it does absolutely no good to complain.”
Another, a longtime coach, thought the officiating was poor because the whistle blew so many times that it took away from the players on both teams’ ability to win it on the floor rather than at the free-throw line.
The facts support the point that the whistle blew so much that it took away from the flow of the game, but that doesn’t mean the officials were wrong in doing it. ‘Iolani made 28 of 36 free throws, including 16-for-18 by Zach Gelacio and 8-for-8 by Erik Yamada. Maryknoll was also efficient at the line, going 19-for-23.
The other high-profile spectator said the officiating was “horrible” and they “blew the game.”
The changed call mentioned earlier came with 1:04 left, when the Spartans’ Brian Washington fouled an ‘Iolani player without the ball under the basket by pushing him with his arms. It was not a vicious push, which, at many levels of the game, would not justify an intentional foul call.
Well, the initial call was a regular, not an intentional, foul.
But before the shots, a timeout was called and Shimamoto spoke with an official and explained that in his reading of the rules, in high school basketball, a push like that is an intentional foul.
“I asked her to discuss it with her crew and see what they said,” Shimamoto said. “As a coach, I’m fighting for my players, just like Kelly is for his players.”
Grant, meanwhile, was upset that the referees were conferring and he said loudly three times to the officials 30 feet away, “You better not change that call.”
The officials eventually ruled that it was an intentional foul and instead of awarding ‘Iolani two shots, the Raiders — leading 46-45 at the time — were given the two shots plus possession of the ball afterward.
Hugh Hogland hit both shots for a three-point lead and ‘Iolani went on to win 58-51 from there, clinching a state berth and eliminating Maryknoll from moving on.
‘Iolani plays Punahou on Friday night for the ILH tournament championship and, if the Raiders win, they’ll get one more game against the Buffanblu for the overall league title. The Spartans look toward next year.
Grant thought the changed call had a huge impact on and may have even decided the outcome.
But, did Maryknoll get ripped off as some of its fans may have thought on their way out of the ‘Iolani gym?
From this vantage point in the proverbial press box, if the rule does state that a direct arm push is an intentional foul (no matter if the intent is malicious or not), then no, the Spartans did not lose the game because of that call. The mistake is made when other Hawaii officials don’t call it by the way it is in the rulebook.
If the rule states that it’s a referee’s discretion when to call an intentional foul, then yes, that changed call went a long way in determining the outcome because the officials chose to call just a regular foul before consultation with Shimamoto and should, therefore, not have veered from their initial ruling.
As for the excessive number of fouls, yes, it certainly interrupted the flow, and even though more fouls were called against Maryknoll than against ‘Iolani, it appeared that the officials were trying to be fair to both teams in their calls.
Now, let’s take a look at the rulebook. Shall we?
Not sure we want to go there.