In my favorite video game of all-time, NBA Jam, a player, who was on fire, would have come the closest to pulling off that feat.
Letís just say there was no flames on the basketballs leaving the hand of
Pottsville freshman Nick Schlitzer.
Instead, some bad decision making by the Pottsgrove bench led to six
technicals and 12 technical free throws attempts for Schlitzer.
The officials at the Pottsgrove Area High School issued a technical foul for
each player and assistant coach that left the bench.
Schlitzer knocked down 11-of-12 free throws, singlehandedly clinching a Tide
victory moments after what appeared to be a definite defeat.
Was it the right call?
The official who made the decision to award 12 free throws in the contest,
acknowledged that he interpreted the rules incorrectly in a telephone call
made the morning after the game to Pottsgrove Athletic Director Gary DeRenzo.
I reported about the wild game a day later, but wasnít able to get an
immediate answer until a few days later on how many technical free throws
should have been shot.
Luckily, area PIAA official Bill Murphy sent me a timely e-mail.
He forwarded me a memo that was sent to more than two dozen PIAA officials a
few weeks earlier, dealing with the procedure for handling fighting and near
I immediately applied it to the Pottsgrove/Pottsville game.
The memo specifically highlights bench personnel leaving the bench when a
fight breaks out.
It was broken down into two concepts: 1. bench personnel doesnít participate
in the fight; 2. bench personnel does participate in the fight.
Of course, I didnít make the long trip to Pottsgrove, so I asked Pottsville
coach Dave Mullaney to describe the events.
Mullaneyís version was that the players that left the bench were just sticking
up for their teammates, and he didnít think that they had any intention of
escalating the scuffle on the floor.
If the players just came out on the court and didnít participate in any
pushing or shoving: 1. all players leaving the bench are assessed flagrant
technicals and are disqualified; 2. The head coach is assessed ONE indirect
technical foul, regardless of the number of players leaving the bench; 3. Two
free throws are awarded to the team with the least number of players leaving
the bench followed by a throw-in from the division line.
According to Mullaney and DeRenzo, that best identified the situation that
night, and only two free throws should have been awarded to Pottsville.
The penalty that was enforced against Pottsgrove followed the guidelines of
the bench players fully participating in the scuffle on the court. In that
case, if the number of players that left the bench from each team is unequal
(no one left Pottsville bench), two free throws are awarded for each
additional player to the offended team.
Again, I didnít see it with my own eyes so I can only go by the information
provided to me by Mullaney and the Pottsgrove athletic director, but it sounds
like the officials made the wrong decision.
But no matter what the rules state, the players that left the bench made a
much worse decision.
Even though their punishment may not have fit the crime, the Pottsgrove
players and assistant coach never should have left the bench.
They did escalate the situation by their mere presence on the court alone and
cost their team a victory.
Not only did Pottsville get a victory, but they also got another victory for
self control as the Crimson Tide players and coaches stayed on the bench.