Basketball season is almost right on top of us. That means it is time to break out one of my oldies but goodies.
Local and area basketball official Dennis Hagedorn constantly reminds me that officials do not win or lose games. Well Dennis, I wholeheartedly disagree with you.
I take you back to the 1993-94 season.
I was not writing full time for the News Journal at that time and I had the weekend off from my other job at Burger King.
I was keeping both the men’s and women’s scorebooks at State Fair Community College. Lady Roadrunner Coach Dale Kimberling always came in at Burger King in the mornings for breakfast. I used to laugh when Kimberling came in because he had a gruff, raspy voice. He scared most of our employees half to death.
Anyway, one particular morning, he got his order and came over and sat down with me. He asked me if I could go down to Poplar Bluff with him and the team that weekend for the Three Rivers Classic.
I agreed and we boarded a small mini bus – 12 players, Coach Gary Noland, Coach Kimberling and myself – squashed in there like sardines – for the seven-hour trip across the state.
We got down there about 4:00. The Lady Roadrunners beat Murphysboro Tenn., that night. Day One was successful and in the books.
I had a queasy feeling in my stomach because SFCC had to play Three Rivers in the championship the next afternoon. When you play Three Rivers on their floor, strange things usually happen.
Now, the Lady Roadrunners had a pretty good team that year with Lauren Ivy, Stacy West and Calendar Parker.
At the half, the Lady Roadrunners were up 42-30 and seemed destined to win the classic title.
That’s when the shenanigans started. At the half, the three officials walked over to the score table and asked the scorekeeper how many fouls Ivy, West and Parker had.
I was sitting two chairs away from the scorekeeper. I thought that was a strange question for the referees to be asking. Then it dawned on me that we were about to get cheated.
I ran down to the steps leading to the Lady Roadrunner locker room. The team was just coming up the steps to warm up for the second half. I stepped up to Kimberling and told him what I had just heard. He rolled his eyes and swallowed hard.
My suspicions were right on. Before the second half was five minutes old, Ivy, West and Parker had fouled out and Kimberling was ejected, leaving Noland and I to run the show. Before the final horn sounded, SFCC’s 12-player roster had shrunk to four. We went from up 12 at the half to down 40 when it was over.
What made it worse was that the three guys who called our game came back out in street clothes and worked at the score table.
“What happened, did you three guys get embarrassed wearing those striped shirts and cheating us? How much did they pay you guys to cheat us?”
I was mad enough that I would willingly have taken on all three.
So, please don’t try to tell me that officials don’t win or lose games.