MORGAN CITY — Morgan City High School’s basketball game against Centerville Thursday came to an abrupt end after one official stopped play and declared the contest over with 21.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
While the game was never in doubt, Morgan City was leading 65-48 at the time, the official, who identified himself following the game as “Thomas Johnson,” said that he called the game because both teams had stopped playing and also cited the time remaining on the clock.
When later told who the official identified himself as, Morgan City coach Jeremy Whittington said the official’s name was Roosevelt Thomas.
After the game was called, Whittington said to no one in particular, “I’ve never seen that before.”
He said Thomas responded with “Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
Whittington said he asked, “Is that a rule?”
And Whittington said Thomas responded: “That’s a new rule.”
Attempts to reach Thomas this morning were unsuccessful and a message could not be left on a mailbox for a listing of a Roosevelt Thomas because it was full.
Both Whittington and Centerville head coach/Athletic Director Randy Bergeron said Thomas shouldn’t have stopped the game.
Bergeron said in this case, "He doesn't have the jurisdiction to do that."
Bergeron also disputed that his squad was not playing.
He said his squad was in a zone defense against Morgan City on the game’s last possession when Morgan City was milking the clock.
Bergeron said Centerville matched up out of its zone defense when Morgan City passed the ball and following a pass, Centerville would go back into its zone.
He said even if his squad was not actively defending Morgan City, it still wasn’t right to end the game.
Messages left for Bob Browning, assignment secretary for the Thibodaux Association where the referees hail from, at his home and on his cell, were not returned.
While a message was left at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s office requesting to speak with someone regarding officiating, a recording said that the office is closed until Monday because of the organization’s annual convention, which concludes today.
Bergeron also complained that Morgan City shot 31 free throws and Centerville had less than 10 attempts.
“I mean, come on, man,” Bergeron said. “That was the biggest disparity in the game, and then for them to end the game the way they did.”
Bergeron said that officials need to be disciplined in cases like what happened Thursday evening.
What the late-game shocker overshadowed was a career night for Morgan City’s Tyrin Watts, who put up 38 points.
Both coaches heaped praise on him.
“He was incredible. … He shot the three and he drove it to the lane. We couldn’t stop him,” Bergeron said.
While Centerville took a slim 16-15 lead after a period of play, Morgan City gained the upper hand in the second quarter with a 19-7 scoring advantage.
Both coaches pointed to the second quarter as being a difference maker in the win as Morgan City was able to get a scoring advantage.
Of those second-quarter points, Watts scored 17. He finished the first half with 22 points.
In the third quarter, Morgan City was able to maintain a 18-15 scoring edge, while they outscored Centerville 13-10 in the fourth.
Whittington noted that while Morgan City outscored Centerville in the second half, the Bulldogs still made shots.
“If they hit a few more shots, they’re in it,” he said.
Besides Watts, Malcolm Watkins scored eight points; Jaylen Jones, six; Buddy Humphrey, five points; and Brady Fryou and Brannon Randle, four apiece.
Morgan City returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Ellender Memorial.