Thursday, Feb. 20, Laguna Beach High School: Two referees, one score table, and Laguna Beach fans versus three Archer coaches and their supporters. Was the home-team advantage out of hand?
A few minutes into the third quarter, Laguna High took Archer’s half-time four point lead. But the Archer huddle during a timeout was interrupted by a referee: “Coach, the table says number 35 has five fouls.”
California Interscholastic Federation Blue Book states that a player is “disqualified during a contest for five personal fouls.” This rule caused significant tension when freshman and first Team All-League player Hannah Martin ‘17 was accused of five fouls.
Coach Marlee Rice is in charge of keeping the statistics of the Archer Varsity team during games. According to her records, Martin had four fouls, and fellow player Clara Gasparetti ’17 had two. The staff at the score table had on record that Martin, number 35, had five fouls, and that Gasparetti, number 5, only had one.
Coach Denny Lennon said to the team, “At half-time, I came to the table and clarified that number 35 [Martin] only had three fouls.” Neither Laguna Beach nor Archer would admit to being wrong. As the game proceeded, Coach Lisa Live pointed out that the scoreboard did not show the fouls called all game.
Laguna High and Archer fans alike were riled up while the coaches debated on the court. For a long time, in basketball terms.
The head referee pointed out that Archer didn’t have anybody sitting at the score table to verify when fouls were called. When asked to comment later, Coach Lennon told the Oracle, “We never had to [sit at the score table] in the past, we trusted them. I have never felt the need to monitor the adults in a game, and I felt that they would [do] what was right when presented the opportunity.”
It is bad enough for a player to be taken out of any game when she doesn’t deserve it—especially when it is relatively early on in a game. But in an important game where that athlete knows she can make a difference on the court, it’s frustrating on a different level.
As the game continued— with Martin on the bench—both sides of the gymnasium were in an uproar. The ref had to go to both sides of the gym to calm people down.
An Archer fan told the Oracle that the head ref had said, “I am respectfully asking you to not engage the other bleachers and yell across the court, I have already informed [the Laguna fans] the same thing and let’s keep up a high level of sportsmanship in high school sports,” after the noise got out of hand.
The ref contacted Lennon the next day and congratulated the team for their efforts.
Coach Lennon was adamant that “their girls and our girls played a good game, that’s bottom line. The young people in that game did a good job, and the officials did a good job and refereed a fair game.”
The Panthers fought hard for the rest of the game but according to Martin, “[both] refs weren’t calling the fouls both ways.” At one point, Laguna only had a 5-point lead, but in the end, Laguna High won their first game in CIF Southern Section Playoffs 66-59 according to MaxPreps.
This was also Senior Maia Barnett’s last game at Archer, so it was an emotional huddle for the team afterwards. She later commented, “I believe that if the statistician was more honest about the fouls that the players on our team had, that the outcome may have been different. It was unfair.”
Barnett—who had already held the school record in scoring— set another personal and school record with 41 points. Archer also broke a Liberty League record by having the All League MVP come from the third place team. Barnett fought with her team, and together they played their hearts out to the buzzer.
At the end of the day, the home score table made a mistake and they would not admit or correct it. Whether or not this error cost Archer the game will never be determined.
The home table should have been better role models for athletes and should have shown more sportsmanship during the situation at hand. Coach Lennon summed it up: “The home scorebook failed to act like the rest [of the people involved].”
Featured Image: Basketball net. Photographer: Daniel Gray, used with permission.