N.J. team eliminated from Tournament of Champions on technical foul error

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

A New Jersey prep basketball coach is accepting blame for "pulling a Chris Webber" that resulted in a late-game technical foul and his team's ousting from the state's all-class Tournament of Champions.

Pitman (N.J.) High boys' basketball coach Kevin Crawford illegally fielded six Panthers out of a timeout in the final moments of their quarterfinal game against the Linden (N.J.) Tigers on Tuesday. Here's what ensued, according to Wes Szafran's game story in the South Jersey Times.

With the game tied and 10 seconds left on the clock, the Tigers had possession of the ball and had called timeout. Following the timeout, the Panthers accidentally sent six players out on the floor. The penalty wasn’t noticed until eight seconds had ticked off the clock.

Otis Livingston hit both technical free throws and on the ensuing inbound, Quinton Dixon was fouled and made both shots as well to ice the game.

The result was a 64-60 loss to Group IV state champion Linden. It was quite a letdown after underdog Pitman had erased a 13-point deficit in the second half to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining.

"This was on me, I take full responsibility," Pitman coach Kevin Crawford told The Star-Ledger following his team's first defeat in 10 games. "It wasn't a 17- or 18-year-old kid, it was me. A part of me wants to find a hole and hide, but the man in me wants to stand up and face the music."

Regardless, his Panthers still leave with a state title. After suffering four losses in a six-game span midway through the season, Pitman won nine straight en route to the school's first Group I state championship since 1998, qualifying to face New Jersey's other group winners in the Tournament of Champions.

"This team represents themselves, our community and the coaching staff in such a positive way," Crawford added. "I just wish I could have put them in a better position to win the game. I'd rather have Linden make a play to beat us than me screw up and pull a Chris Webber.

"Our team should walk out of here with their heads up as state champions. I think we proved we are good as Linden, which is tough for a Group 1 school to say."