Clarifying Pottsville-Pottsgrove scrap -Pottsville Republican
 
12/15/2007
How does a team that trailed by six points with four seconds remaining in the game end up winning by five points without going into overtime?
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 fight situations.

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.