A controversial, final-second ruling in a 60-58 win by Westchester-Los Angeles High at Bullard Friday night involved basket interference, not a time issue, says the official who made the call.
Calvin Young’s tip-in that would have sent the game into overtime was waved off by Tim Johnson, one of three officials working the first round game of the Southern California Regional Open Division boys basketball playoff.
“The call I had was basket interference,” Johnson said Saturday morning.
Basket interference has an offensive player touching a ball that is on or within the cylinder.
Johnson, from the Tulare/Kings County Officials Association, said he has since reviewed the play from a television newscast.
“I stand behind the call,” said Johnson, the trailing official who viewed the play from the backcourt. “I think it confirms it totally.”
A still shot taken off a KGPE-47 video of the play shows Young’s left hand, upon first contact with the ball, clearly in front of the rim. But a piece of the ball appears to be above the rim.
Bullard coach Tony Amundsen, who spoke briefly with Johnson as the official was rushing off the floor with his partners, was under the impression immediately following the game the tip-in was disallowed because the official felt time had expired.
In a chaotic scene, Knights fans — many reviewing cell phone photos or videos of the play — thought it was a time issue, also.
A photo taken from a cell phone by Teaghan Finks — the 14-year-old son of Bullard athletic director Doug Finks — showed what appears to be 0.2 remaining on the clock as the ball is in the basket.
Turns out, that was a moot point.
“The only thing I wish I had done better was tell Tony my call was basket interference,” Johnson said. “He was asking about time, and at that point (following the game) it was getting crazy.”
Following the tip-in, Johnson said he first made a circle motion with his right hand, indicating basket interference.
But the circle movement was not evident to most — certainly not Amundsen — because it occurred so quickly — if it did at all. Video shows clearly Johnson did not signal basket interference, at least not immediately, while he repeatedly waved off the basket and then pointed the opposite direction, indicating Westchester possession.
Johnson said he then asked one of his partners, David Vieira — who was responsible for the clock — if he had any time left, and that Vieira said he didn’t.
“The ball was off the rim, anyway,” Amundsen said after the game.
Westchester coach Ed Azzam said: “I thought (Young) went over the rim to get it; I thought it was basket interference. But I have a very bias view.
“You usually don’t get a call like that on the road. You usually don’t get that call anywhere because they just don’t make it. But I’ll take it.”
Amundsen said he wasn’t so upset with the call as he was that Johnson didn’t confer with his partners, David Vieira of the Tulare/Kings County Officials Association and Alan Holmes of the Kern County Officials Association.
Fresno-area officials weren’t used because of a state agreement that officials who have worked games of the participating teams previously are prohibited from calling the Regional, said Bob Kayajanian, president of the San Joaquin Valley Officials Association.
“If it was a time issue,” Johnson said, “we would have gotten together. But there is no discussion on basket interference. And that play is definitely the call of the trailing official.”
Johnson said later, in the locker room, that Vieira — who was watching the clock — didn’t see the tip-in, and that Holmes agreed with Johnson’s call.
Bullard, the Central Section Division I champion ranked sixth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, closed the season 27-3.
The Knights had trailed 60-51 in an uptempo thriller seen by an overflow crowd of 1,600.
Westchester, a Los Angeles City Section champion ranked No. 12 in the state, is 29-6.