by JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor
The season came to an abrupt end for the South Plains College men’s basketball team following a tough loss sparked by a controversial call.
The Texans entered the National Junior College Athletic Association Region V tournament as the second seed in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. SPC faced off with Hill College in the first round of the tournament on March 2 in Brownwood.
After a hard-fought game in which the Texans overcame a 16-point deficit in the second half, the Texans were defeated 90-85 in overtime.
Following a slow start, the Texans made some changes to their game plan during halftime that helped them get back in the game.
“We switched lineups the second half,” explained Steve Green, head men’s basketball coach at SPC. “We did a better job of getting the ball inside, and we switched defenses on them so we could get to their shooters better.”
The changes helped the Texans close the gap and take the lead with less than a second remaining in the game following a clutch mid-range jumper from freshman guard Jerron Love.
Following the go-ahead shot, the Texans’ bench was hit with a questionable technical foul call for excessive celebration that Green says was a misinterpretation of the rule, which may have wrongfully ended the season.
“The officials got together without even consulting me, or at least telling me what their call was,” said Green. “They just awarded the technical foul. I really don’t know why they called it, and they never really determined what it was called for.”
The questionable last-second technical foul called by referees awarded the Rebels two free throws, allowing them an opportunity to tie the game at the end of regulation play.
The foul call sent Rebels guard Mike Mayhew to the foul line. Mayhew made one of two free throws, making the score 85-85 and sending the game into overtime.
“If it was an excessive celebration, that would only be one shot,” said Green. “Had a one-point lead. The guy goes to the free-throw line and missed it. The game should have been over. They gave him a second free throw. The only way you can do that is A: you don’t know the rule, or B: you change it to something like taunting… that is a technical, and that’s a two-shot play.”
After reviewing the video, Green sent a copy to the NJCAA Commissioner of Officials, who confirmed Green’s feelings that the most important part of the game had, in fact, been mishandled by referees.
“He (commissioner) got back to me and said that there should never have even been a technical called,” said Green. “It’s a delay of game. Hill had not even picked the ball up; The ball was just laying in the middle of the paint. They made no attempt to get the ball in-bounds.”
After speaking with the commissioner and having his suspicions confirmed, the idea that the Texans were more or less beaten by officials rather than the opposing team is a tough one for Green and the Texans following all the hard work put in and determination they have shown throughout the season.
“Officials blew the call, took the game away from us,” said Green, “a game which we fought back and won. They basically said, ‘Sorry, we’re going to disregard what just happened and take the game away from you’.”
Love finished the game with a double-double, scoring 26 points and pulling down 14 rebounds in addition to what should have been a game-winning shot against the Rebels.
Sophomore Michael Wolf had a good offensive game, scoring 15 points and also grabbing six rebounds.
Freshman guard Roberto Gallinat chipped in 11 points, making three of seven shots from behind the three-point arc.
Sophomore guard Deontae North and Love each scored 10 points against the Rebels.
The Rebels held sophomore forward Che Bob, the Texans’ leading scorer, to just four points in the game, hindering their offensive attack.