OHSAA Title Game Brews the Controversy

By Kaleb Page

April 1, 2015

In the Division II state basketball championship in Ohio there was an ending that you might not see again (at least for a long time). An ending involving a dunk…how is that anything newsworthy?

What happened at the end of that dunk is what really caught the attention of not only people in the state, but people nationally as well.

The game was between Cleveland Central Catholic and Defiance High School. The game was closely contested coming down the stretch. With under a minute in the fourth quarter the score line was 37-35 in favor of Central Catholic. At roughly 45 seconds on the clock, Central Catholic star player Antwon Lillard drove the lane and took off.

Moving fast down the lane Lillard’s momentum springs him to the hole for a big slam. The slam gives his team a huge four point lead to essentially cement the championship. If you remember from earlier I said it wasn’t the dunk that got the reaction it was the after that initiated the debate.

As Lillard dunked he hung on the rim and swung his legs up until he finally landed on the floor. After that action one of the referees gave Lillard a technical foul for hanging on the rim. If you watch the video below you can draw your conclusion on if it should have been called or not (starts at 34 seconds).

This call resulted in two free throws for Defiance and the ball. The bulldogs made both free throws and went on to score on that possession; forcing overtime. Once in overtime the tough nature of the game picked back up, but Defiance walked away the DII Ohio state champion with the final score of 49-45.

“A player can hang from the rim if he is protecting himself from injury if a player or players are underneath him. There were not any players underneath him, and he pulled himself up and swung excessively.” – Denny Morris, OHSAA excutive explaining the ruling (via Cleveland.com)

The national media from USA Today Sports, ESPN, Sporting News, etc. took the story and looked to spread this interesting ending to a big game. Controversy on whether or not the call was right has raged on in any of the comment section you find within an article on this topic.

With that said, I think it is important the national media shows this big ending to a state championship but, it’s important to be fair and not make the referee this huge villain.

Even with the call Defiance had to go to the line and knock down two high pressure free throws. Then when they got that possession they had to work for that basket to tie it and take it into overtime. Yes the call was huge, and yes the call set up for the end result but it still takes capitalizing on. If Defiance misses those free throws are we even sitting here today debating this call as much as we are?

I doubt it.

It is rough to lose that way and you have to feel for those Central Catholic players. At the same time, credit is due for Defiance finishing the job. Circumstances out of your control come up in any sport but it is key to really get past it and focus on what you can control.

Maybe that is the true story line here to realize.

Worry about the things you can control because things will happen you can’t control and when the things you can’t control do happen it is important to keep carrying on.

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