By TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
Seems just about everyone in Robert A. Harris Gymnasium was ready for overtime between Warren County and Cannon County Friday (Feb. 1).
Everyone, that is, except for one of the three officials.
Tied 54-54, Warren County’s Nick Simmons’ 15-footer with two seconds remaining was off the mark. The horn sounded as the ball was coming off the rim.
Lee Carden tipped the ball back into the air and it went through the net. Apparently to no avail, right?
After a brief discussion between the three-man (well, one was a female) officiating crew, the female official ruled the shot good and the game complete.
Warren County escaped with a 56-54 triumph on Carden’s off-the buzzer beater. Even Warren County players appeared dazed as the team’s lined up to shake hands.
Officials in high school do not view video evidence when making such determinations at the end of the game. Coaches do.
After viewing the game film postgame, Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby said his thoughts were confirmed and the tip came “well” after the buzzer had sounded.
None of the three officials gave any emphatic determinaton whether the shot was good or wiped off at the end of regulation. The female official did motion her index finger downward as if she was ashing a cigarette.
“Human error is part of it,” Rigsby said. “We all make mistakes. I was appalled that it wasn’t more emphatic. I was getting my guys off of the floor. I felt like the ball was coming off the cylinder when the horn sounded so I thought it was so preposterious the tip was even given consideration. I was getting prepared for overtime. It was unfortunate.”
The controversial ending marred a great non-district basketball game between the two teams.
Cannon County (11-14) continued to play well down the stretch but had nothing to show for it.
The Lions battled throughout and had a strong comeback on Senior Night.
The Lions fell behind 18-11 after the first quarter but they put together a spirited comeback and pulled to within 29-28 by halftime.
They led 44-43 after the third quarter and you could tell it was going to be a fight to the finish.
Cory Henley led Cannon County with 17 points and knocked down 7-of-14 shots. Jarrett Melton had a memorable performance on Senior Night. He scored 12 points, dished out four assists, collected three rebounds and had three steals.
Senior Justin Tobin also played well with nine points and four rebounds. Garrett McReynolds added seven points and five rebounds. Tanner Larson had six points and seven rebounds. Senior Alex Davenport pulled five rebounds and had two steals and provided strong defense during the fourth quarter.
The game was nip and tuck throughout the fourth quarter. Cannon County tailed 54-52 but Henley hit two pressure-packed free throws with six seconds to tie the game.
Simmons’ misfired on a potential game-winner with two seconds remaining. Overtime was on the horizon until Carden’s shot was allowed.
Kendall Rutledge led Warren Co. with 13 points.