Manasquan continuing fight over controversial buzzer-beater call in semi-final game with Camden

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Friday, March 8, 2024
Camden basketball game ends in chaos following controversial call
Camden High School's semifinal basketball game ends in chaos following controversial call

NEW JERSEY (WPVI) -- There is a big controversy over a play in a state semi-final high school basketball game in New Jersey.

The ending of the game between Camden and Manasquan is being talked about around the country.

Manasquan made what they believed to be a game-winning bucket to beat Camden. But the referees stopped their celebration and named Camden the winner, saying the ball left the player's hands too late.

Video of the play appears to show the ball leave the player's hand before the buzzer, however, there are no reviews in New Jersey high school basketball.

Now, Camden moves on to the state championship as Manasquan's season comes to an end.

But the Manasquan School District filed a lawsuit Thursday, asking the court to pause the championship game on Saturday.

"The judge ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to do that," attorney Jerry Clark told our sister station WABC-TV.

Clark and his firm, Clark Law Firm, took on the case pro-bono. He says since the court can't consider the case, he's now petitioning the Department of Education, which oversees the Athletic Association, to address the issue.

"The governor or the Commissioner of Education would have the power to declare Manasquan the winner of this game and make this thing right," Clark said.

For his part, Governor Phil Murphy didn't think he could intervene.

"It's a crushing way to lose a game," Murphy said.

He says he has to defer to the body that oversees the decisions, but says it's "crushing to those kids."

Camden City School District Spokesperson Sheena M. Yera issued a statement Thursday:

"While we understand the frustration and disappointment surrounding this incident, it's important to clarify that Camden City School District had no influence or say in the outcome of the game or the decision made by the NJSIAA officials. We look forward to supporting our Panthers basketball team at Saturday's championship game."

The NJSIAA released a statement saying they understand the frustration and never want a game to end with controversy. After reviewing video, they apologized for the error and explained what happened:

"Here, all of the events happened within the final second of the game. One of the three officials counted the basket as beating the buzzer. The three officials then met at half court to confer. A second official saw the ball in the shooter's hands when the buzzer sounded. The officials then waived off the basket. Later, after being shown video clips, the second official agreed the basket should have counted.

That said, the rules are clear -- once game officials leave the 'visual confines of the playing court,' the game is concluded, and the score is official. So, while the officiating crews' reports indicate that a post-game review of footage of the play in question convinced them that the basket should have counted, the results could not then and cannot now be changed.

Also, NJSIAA Program Regulations, Section 14 - which governs the use of video - states, 'No video or audio recording may be used to review or challenge the decision of a sports official.' In addition, NJSIAA Bylaws, Article VII, Section 1 prohibit protests 'based upon an official's judgment or misinterpretation (misapplication) of the playing rules.' The ruling on the court is, exclusively and by rule, what determines the game winner.

Unlike in college or the pros, there is no instant replay review in high school basketball in New Jersey. These are the rules of the game that all schools agree to follow, and which have been upheld on appeal. We apologize to the Manasquan team for the error."