It was one of the wildest finishes in recent Massachusetts high school basketball history. No one is debating that. What they’re arguing over is whether it should have included an overtime, and how officials could have refrained from a call that would have at least provided a talented sharp shooter with a chance to reach that extra period.
As reported by the MetroWest Daily News, Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. John’s High edged Northborough (Mass.) Algonquin Regional High in the Division I Central sectional semifinals by a score of 52-51. With 10 seconds remaining, St. John’s held a 49-48 lead, so it’s perhaps little surprise that they emerged victorious. Yet they caught a major break on the final shot of the game, when Algonquin star Brad Canova drilled a three from the left side of the court and was absolutely clobbered on the follow through.
You can see Canova being run into in the video above. There’s little question that the unspecified St. John’s defender ran into him like a Mac truck after he had released his shot. The question is whether that warranted a foul (it sure looks like it did).
Perhaps this is the best point for an important side discussion first raised by USA Today's Scott Allen: What in the world is St. John's doing guarding three-pointers like mad men when they have a four-point lead? This makes absolutely no sense. If nothing else, one would reason that it might have made the referees a bit more likely to call a foul than not call one (due to the aggressiveness of the defense).
Of course, if a foul had been called Canova would have received a chance to tie the game at the free throw line with a second or less remaining. Instead, he and his teammates had to watch St. John’s celebrate a sectional playoff upset (Algonquin was the region’s top seed, after all) which they never even had a chance to avoid at the buzzer.
"It's not worth commenting on the officials,” Algonquin head coach Brian Doherty told the Daily News. “It is what it is. I can't change it. They know what they did and I can't change it, so hey, let’s move on. I've got a video I'm going to show them.
"The kids played very well and they never gave up. Obviously it would have been nice to get a better result. I feel bad for the seniors and the kids that are in the locker room, but we had a heck of a year."
In the end, Doherty and his charges had no one to blame for their setback but themselves. St. John’s jumped out to a massive 20-point lead in the third quarter before the Tomahawks came roaring back. The record books will show that their comeback came up just short, though Canova and his teammates could make a pretty compelling case that an asterisk might belong next to the final score.