MHSAA won't 'debate judgment calls' in light of Division 3 title-game controversy

The Detroit News
Iron Mountain's Marcus Johnson reacts after his team's loss in the Division 3 boys basketball state title game.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association responded Monday to backlash following a controversial sequence of events at the end of Saturday's Division 3 boys basketball state championship between Pewamo-Westphalia and Iron Mountain.

His team leading 52-51 with 5.3 seconds remaining, Iron Mountain junior forward Tony Feira was called for a traveling violation on a made layup that would have pushed the lead to three.

On the ensuing possession, Iron Mountain was called for an intentional foul, putting Pewamo-Westphalia guard Collin Trierweiler on the free-throw line with 0.7 seconds left, with Pewamo-Westphalia getting the ball back.

Trierweiler sank both free throws, giving Pewamo-Westphalia a 53-52 victory to win the state title.

Iron Mountain coach Bucky Johnson appeared to be at a loss for words after the game.

"They called a travel on a made basket and an intentional foul on a play on the ball. Next," Johnson said after nearly a half-minute of silence at the postgame news conference.

The sequence drew a strong reaction on social media as well.

The MHSAA responded Monday on Facebook:

"We have received hundreds of comments on social media about Saturday’s Division 3 boys basketball championship game, and that is understandable. When a championship game played between two undefeated teams is decided by such a close margin, there will be strong emotions on both sides. However, continuing the controversy does nothing to benefit either of the participants — not the team that feels it had a championship taken away, nor the team awarded the championship trophy.

The MHSAA Office cannot debate judgment calls. Qualified officials are placed on the court to make those calls. We will continue to provide full support to our officials who have the courage to make split-second, real-time decisions in front of thousands of fans."