Will OHSAA take action to remedy botched calls, ejection in Centerville-Springfield regional semifinals game?

By Jeff Louderback

Lackluster officiating on both ends of the court had a significant impact on Centerville’s hard-fought 67-63 victory over Springfield last night. Not only did the consistently questionable calls in both halves affect both teams, but the officials’ absence of accurate judgment – and their unwillingness to get the calls right when they converged – led to a ruling in the final minute that could have a dramatic influence in Centerville’s regional finals clash with Moeller on Saturday.

Officiating basketball is challenging, especially in a game like Centerville and Springfield.

The schools are fierce GWOC National East rivals, and they met for the third time this season with a trip to the regional finals – which is Ohio’s Elite Eight – on the line. It was a boisterous crowd at the Cintas Center. And Springfield is renowned for its tenacious and aggressive full-court defense, which requires added focus by the referees, and quick decisions on whether or not to blow the whistle.

Yet, this is the regionals. At this stage of the tournament, officials assigned to the game should have the essential experience, game management abilities, thick skin, and fast and accurate decision-making skills to make sure that the game’s outcome is determined by the players and coaches, and not the officials.

In a 33 second stretch over the final 1:09 in the fourth quarter, officials botched two calls that resulted in two inexplicable technicals on Centerville senior point guard Ryan Marchal.

The Elks held a 62-57 lead and had the ball when Marchal drove and was tied up by three Springfield defenders, and the players fell to the ground. On a clean, aggressive play, possession was given to Springfield with 1:24 left. Video footage shows that Marchal got up, took a step and became inadvertently tangled with Springfield’s David Sanford, who lost his balance, fell backward and tumbled to the floor. No altercation, just two players getting tangled, and one losing his balance. An official on the other side of the court whistled Marchal for a technical, and Sanford sank both free throws, cutting the Elks’ lead to 62-59.

With 34 seconds left, Marchal was fouled and connected on both free throws, lifting Centerville to a 64-59 advantage. On Springfield’s next possession, Sanford missed a three-pointer that was rebounded by Elks’ senior Davis Mumaw. He was quickly fouled by Jalan Minney, who was trying to tie up the ball. As the call was made, Marchal hustled back to the other end of the court, and offered Mumaw a congratulatory slap on the shoulder along the way. He was whistled for his second technical foul. Perhaps the official thought Marchal was trying to hit a Springfield player next to Mumaw, but video footage clearly shows Marchal was congratulating Mumaw for grabbing a key rebound at a crucial point in the game.

Centerville held on for the 67-63 win, but Marchal was ejected after getting his second technical. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules mandate that players or coaches are suspended for the team’s next two games if receiving two technical. Centerville head coach Brook Cupps plans to appeal, but if the OHSAA follows through with the suspension, the Elks will be without Marchal in the regional finals against Moeller on Saturday, and even the state semifinals game if they advance.

Moeller, which easily defeated Lakota East in the opening regional semifinals game last night at Cintas Center, is 26-0 and the defending Division I state champions. It’s certainly not an understatement to say that being without Marchal, who is the Elks’ leader, will likely have a monumental impact on the outcome of Saturday’s game.

Moeller’s undefeated record, and their standing as the top-ranked Division I team in Ohio and the defending state champions, is not fully relevant in Marchal’s potential suspension, though. Even if Centerville faced a school that was winless in the regular season and somehow strung together five wins to get to the regional semifinals, the point is that officials inexplicably whistled Marchal for two technicals in a 33-second span in the final two minutes of such a high-profile game. These same officials consistently bungled calls on both ends of the court throughout the game. Referees in the regionals need to have better judgment and more consistent accuracy.

The OHSAA can remedy the unnecessary technical that resulted in Marchal’s ejection by ensuring that he is eligible to play on Saturday. They would also be wise to make sure that the crew that officiated the game is not assigned to anything else this postseason.

Again, officiating is challenging, and even the best crews miss calls now and then. However, when they consistently and blatantly botch calls, and their decisions unjustly lead to the dismissal of a player for not only that game, but the next two contests, action should be taken by the OHSAA to make it right and make sure that the best officiating crews take the court.

5 comments

  1. Well written, and something that needed to be said. We hear all the time about how bad the fans and the parents in the stands are. I recently read an article about how officials are leaving the profession because of the craziness of the people in the stands…this is a real problem and needs addressed. But on the other side of the ball is what we witnessed Wednesday night. Being a past high school official I can say that there are some officials where it becomes more about them then the student athletes and the game. From personal experience this is what we witnessed at the game between Centerville and Springfield…how can a players dreams and high school career end due to horrible calls that never warranted being called for a Technical. To give a player 2 T’s in that short of a time period when not any altercation, no shoving, no pushing or even having to be separated from another player. This is the sweet 16…stakes are high…players work and dream to be at this point…they deserve good officiating and they deserve with is right and just. #0 Ryan sitting out what may be his last game is not just or right. The film is very clear. OHSAA has the opportunity to make it right, hopefully it will be about the student athlete and the lessons they are learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good insight, DL. I am writing a follow-up story today as we’ve learned that Marchal will indeed be suspended and miss Saturday as well as the state semifinal, if Centerville advances. I have reached out to the OHSAA, but they are not commenting. I welcome your insight as a former official and can keep you anonymous if you want to provide additional insight.

      Like

      • I would like the opportunity to help. The majority of the officials are good and the kids are what it is about. But the official that called the 2nd T on Ryan is known to brag about how many T’s he gives out. I also heard that one of the other officials even said to him before he called the 2nd one…”you know that will be his 2nd…and the response was “I don’t care I am tired of it…”

        Tired of what? I didn’t realize it was about you? And now video proves that what you called him for he did not do, so what you thought you saw you did not see…and instead of doing something that would not make you a big part of the outcome of the game and the state tournament…you jumped right in and did just opposite…because you are tired of it.

        I did not think they would over turn it…my question after seeing the video and being there that night…is when is it every the right thing…to not do the right thing? So no matter what their reasoning is…how can it be right. The video eliminated any question. Now…the student athlete pays…his desire and dream to win, to make it to state…to lead the team is over…all because..”I am tired of it” that’s what high schools sports is all about…the big ego official. Sorry for the rant…thanks for the light you are bringing to the subject.

        Like

      • Hi, DL. I would like to find out the number of technicals the three officials who did the Centerville-Springfield game have given out this year, and if that is in disparity with the norm. Do you know where to find that? OHSAA is not cooperative. In a story like this, it is important to have attribution for credibility of sources. It’s an important story to be told because a few bad apples ruin it for other reputable officials, and the OHSAA needs to be transparent about the appeals process. I would also like to see the officials’ report from the game, but I am not counting on that from the OHSAA.

        Like

      • I would not expect them to cooperate…I want to thank you for the follow up article about the Elks having special motivation. I am wishing them the best tonight…after it all said and done…the fact still remains that Coach Cupps should have never had to sit down with his leading senior and deliver the wrong outcome. I applaud Coach Cupps and the entire team for rising above and doing what they have to do. This is a testimony to a great basketball program where it is about more then just the game. I say well done Ryan for handling something that is so wrong in the best way possible…you are a true champion and a great young man.

        Thank you again for not letting this issue be swept under the rug.

        Look forward to helping with all thy I can…

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s