Two high school girls basketball teams were kicked out of the state’s district playoffs after a report from the game’s referee said both schools “played to lose the game,” according to Tom Kreager of The Tennessean.
According to the report, both teams, Riverdale and Smyrna, were going to advance to the next round of the playoffs no matter what because of the way the tournament was structured. The winner would have faced the defending state and national champions Blackman in the next round. The loser would have faced a lesser opponent in the next round and faced an easier path to the district finals.
On paper, each time had an incentive to lose and avoid Blackman.
According to the report filed by the referee, one team missed 12 of their 16 free throws “intentionally.”
Here is video via Deadspin that appears to show a player intentionally missing a free throw.
The referee said the other team refused to advance the ball past half-court looking for a 10-second violation and at another time committed an over-and-back violation “intentionally.”
Another video appears to confirm the intentional over-and-back violation.
Other incidents according to the game’s referee included a player standing in the lane and begging for a three-second violation and a player intentionally shooting at the wrong basket, only to be stopped because of a 10-second violation.
After the latter incident, the officials stopped the game and spoke with both coaches about making a mockery of the game.
Later in the game, with Smyrna holding a 30-25 lead with just four minutes remaining, a state athletics administrator noticed that Smyrna’s coach did not have his starters in the game, was not paying attention to the game, and according to a state official “acted like he really didn’t care about what went on in the game.”
At that point a state official confronted the Smyrna coach about the situation. The starters then went back in to the game and Smyrna went on to win 55-29.
In addition to being kicked out of the postseason, both schools were placed on probation for the rest of this school year and next, both schools were fined $US1,500, and the Smyrna coach will be suspended for the first two games of the 2015-16 season.
A state executive explained that the state decided to kick both teams out of the playoffs instead of just suspending the coaches because “the student athletes bought into it” and “they were the ones asking [for violations to be called].”
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