Girls from both teams didn't just miss easy free throws; according to the New York Daily News, the girls even shot he ball at the wrong basket. A team doesn't get more determined to lose than that.
The referee gave his account of the District 7-AAA consolation game.
"Both teams played to lose. Riverdale started off the game in a 2-3 zone, which is very odd for Riverdale, who usually plays 32 minutes of man-to-man full court pressure. After a few minutes, I think that the Smyrna coach realized what was going on and subbed his second team in. Riverdale followed suit and did the same."At a point, the referee said he felt compelled to speak to both coaches over the embarrassing performance of the two teams.
"I called both coaches together and told them we are not going to make a travesty or mockery of the game. WE ARE NOT GOING TO START TRYING TO SHOOT AND SCORE FOR THE OTHER TEAM."It wasn't just basketball fans who turned up for the game that was upset at what happened. When word and video evidence circulated as to what occurred, both Smyrna and Riverdale were held accountable.
The Daily Journal reported that Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association made the decision to ban BOTH high school girls basketball teams from the upcoming playoffs. In addition, each school was fined $1,500 for the incident.
What caused two different teams to meet and desperately try to lose the game to one another? Apparently, the losing team would see themselves moved to the other side of the bracket, with a better chance of winning the state championship.
It's believed that coaches, Shawn Middleton at Smyrna and Cory Barrett at Riverdale, may have explained the bracket in such a way as to emphasize the positive aspect of losing the game.
Although a Riverdale administrator defended Barrett, saying that he didn't explicit demand the girls lose, the TSSAA felt that whatever the coach said, it clearly strongly influenced the team to throw their basketball game.
Said TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress, "He told them, 'This is where we will be if we win, this is where we will be if we lose.'"
Unfortunately, the obvious attempt by both the Smyrna and Riverdale girls basketball teams left both teams banned.
Even the agreement by Smyrna and Riverdale high schools to fire Middleton and Barrett in exchange for letting the girls play couldn't convince the TSSAA to reverse its decision.
The Tennessean quoted Childress on the TSSAA's firm decision.
"The student athletes bought into [the plan to lose]. They were the ones asking to call three seconds. They were the ones stepping back over [midcourt]. They were the ones not attempting to shoot at the basket."Both Smyrna and Riverdale can continue to play through to the end of the girls' basketball season, but they are out of the tournament competition.
Smyrna principal Rick Powell said that he "hated" that the girls had to suffer because of the actions of their coaches.
"We pleaded with the TSSAA. We hated that they were penalized. But that was their decision."Interestingly, thanks to the actions of these two teams, Tullahoma (19-8) and Lawrence County (21-8) advanced to the semi-finals automatically.
Do you think the TSSAA was too harsh on these girls basketball teams for trying to lose or did the board make the right decision?
[Image Credit: Acid Pix]