Technical in overtime helped determine state semifinal outcome
March 16, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2011 at 10:16 p.m.
A colleague of mine some years back wrote a column in which he was critical of the officiating in a high school football game.
When he arrived at work the next day, he found a cap and a whistle on his desk.
The officials were obviously none too pleased with his opinion of their work, and in their own cryptic manner, were daring him to see if he could do better.
Today, upset readers are more likely to e-mail, but the message, if not the symbolism, is usually crystal clear.
I have been loathe to write anything critical about officials regardless of the sport.
I understand the sacrifices they make and the difficulty of their job.
I know a number of people who have officiated in different sports and almost to a person they are dedicated to calling a game in the appropriate manner.
I have always taken the approach the less I write about the officiating the better.
In the over two decades I have worked at the Advocate, I can think of one column that dealt with officials.
There have been times where I thought the officiating was anywhere from mediocre to atrocious, but I usually don't mention it in a story or a column.
The exception is when the officiating plays a critical role in determining the outcome of the game.
Unfortunately, that was the case in Hallettsville's 75-64 overtime loss to Idalou in the Class 2A semifinal game of the UIL state basketball tournament at the Erwin Center in Austin on Friday.
The Brahmas were trailing by eight points with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie the game on a pair of free throws by Christian Wood-Dvorak with 12.7 seconds remaining.
Hallettsville missed a chance to win the game in regulation when Trevor McGee's shot left his hands slightly after the buzzer.
The teams were tied in overtime and Hallettsville had possession before the officials blew their whistles with 2:17 left after Dante Haynes made contact with an Idalou player on a drive to the basket.
The official behind Haynes called a charge and the official behind the defender called a block.
A conference ensued and the call went as a charge, sending Haynes to the bench with his fifth foul.
Hallettsville coach Rich Dozier had a discussion with the officials, but the call stood and Idalou went up 64-62 on its next possession.
Hallettsville missed three shots on its next possession and Clayton O'Neill came up with an offensive rebound when a whistle blew and he walked to the free throw line, thinking he had been fouled.
Instead, an official went to the scorer's table and signaled a technical foul on the Hallettsville bench.
The official making the call was the same official who had called a block when Haynes fouled out and had been overruled.
Granted, we don't regularly have a team at the state basketball tournament, but I was stunned by the technical foul call.
I asked others sitting at the press tables, including Bob Springer, the publisher of Texas Basketball Magazine, who coached for 35 years, and not one person had ever witnessed a similar call.
Koal Houchin made the technical free throws and Riley Payne was fouled after Idalou inbounded the ball and made two free throws increasing the lead to six points with 1:16 left, all but sealing the outcome.
At the postgame news conference, the first question I asked Dozier what he had said to the official.
Dozier said his words were, "Give me a call." He insisted he didn't curse or direct any personal insults toward the official.
I'm certain much worse has been said to officials in state tournament games.
But most officials have the presence to understand the moment and what is at stake and recognize the importance of letting the players decide the outcome.
Dozier was obviously taken aback by what transpired, but even Idalou coach Tyler Helms was surprised.
"I hate to see that in a game like this," Helms said. "They played well and we played well. I do feel bad, even though I feel like we deserved to win."
The Hallettsville players, especially the eight seniors, shared the same feeling about their team.
An official's call all but took it out of their hands.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.