A terrible call at the wrong time ends a historic season for a Fort Worth basketball team

Mac Engel
·4 min read

A local basketball team had a historic season, in a historic year, and it’s only slightly cruel that it ended on a historically horrible call.

Wyatt’s boys basketball team should have at least gone to overtime in its playoff game against Timberview on Saturday night, but instead a few refs decided to flex when they should have just issued a warning.

“I’ve been around a lot, coached a lot, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Wyatt boys basketball coach DeMarqus James said on Sunday after a night of not sleeping.

“It’s so unprecedented. That was a veteran crew. I just felt like they were veteran enough they should not want to dictate the game like that.”

The goal of every official, referee and umpire should be not to decide the game, because if they do something has gone terribly wrong. We need officials, referees and umpires, but moments like these are why they are more insufferable than sports writers.

Get out of the way.

After coming back in the fourth quarter, Wyatt tied defending state champion Timberview in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinal on Saturday night at 55, and forced a turnover with 6.8 seconds remaining in the game. Wyatt would have the ball for the last shot.

The scene was chaos.

Amid the excitement of the moment, emotions got the best of some of the Wyatt players when a few of them sprang from the bench and took a few steps out onto the court during a stoppage in play.

It happened so fast, and as James saw the lead official walk to the scorer’s table he knew what was coming: Technical foul, excessive celebration.

“You don’t have to give a technical,” James told the referee.

“I never thought he would give us a technical foul,” James said Sunday. “I thought he would give us a warning.”

On the other side of the scorer’s table, Timberview coach Duane Gregory was pleading for the technical foul.

“I don’t have a choice,” the referee told James.

But he did. At least according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Texas UIL assistant athletic director Joseph Garmon, who oversees basketball, said in an email, “You will see this year that warnings are no longer required by officials before assessing a technical foul. That has been a courtesy officials have given to teams previously.”

By the letter, the officials did what the rule book allows. That crew also violated the goal of every single official, referee and umpire when they had a direct role in the outcome.

They should have issued a warning to the Wyatt bench, and let the players decide the game on the court.

Instead, Timberview hit the first of two technical foul shots. The second attempt deflected off a Wyatt player, and the ball went out of bounds. Timberview made one of two more foul shots and won, 57-55.

“I went home and I checked the rule book, and it’s in there,” James said. “The only way a kid can [leave the bench to come on the floor] is if the official calls him over.

“They have the judgment and they can judge if the penalty was major or not, versus issuing a warning or assessing a technical foul.”

James was quick to say he didn’t blame the officiating crew, and if he was the head coach of Timberview he would have done the exact same thing.

What James wants is perfectly reasonable; if something like this happens, some change should come as a result. No coach, player or official should want the final seconds of a game to be decided like this game was.

“I don’t think a change in the rule book but further explanation,” he said. “I just feel like we need to give the tools to the officials if they get into that situation again, they are able to use their judgment.”

In the locker room after the game, James skipped the big speech. He had seven seniors on his team, and he figured that moment was not the right time for a “life’s unfair” sermon.

He just told the players who celebrated on the floor that they were not the reason the team lost. He gave every player a hug, and told them he loved them and he was proud of them.

There wasn’t much else to say.

Wyatt earned one more shot to extend its season, but instead got T’d up when they should have got off with a warning.