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Manasquan and Camden N.J. basketball semifinal playoffs marred by controversial ending

Manasquan and Camden N.J. basketball state semifinal marred by controversial ending
Manasquan and Camden N.J. basketball state semifinal marred by controversial ending 03:23

BAYVILLE, N.J. -- Look up "robbed" in the dictionary and there should be a picture of the Manasquan High School boys basketball team.

The Warriors were left stunned Tuesday night following the conclusion of their NJSIAA Group 2 semifinal game against Camden at Central Regional High School, after the officials waved off their apparent game-winning basket as time expired.

There is overwhelming video evidence that Griffin Linstra's put-back off an offensive rebound clearly was released before time expired, and that Manasquan should have won 47-46. And, initially, the officials agreed, but during the wild celebration on the court they huddled and a few minutes later overturned their decision, sending Camden to the state finals and Manasquan home to ponder what should have been.

"Heartbroken, confused, looking for answers we can't give," Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said of his players.

What makes the matter even more frustrating for Manasquan is the NJSIAA, which governs high school sports in the state, rejected the school district's appeal on Tuesday night. Despite the videos showing the shot being released in time, the use of video to review game decisions is not permitted under NJSIAA rules.

"On the court, the basket was good. The entire gym erupted. All three officials began to leave the court, which is a clear indication the game had ended," Bilodeau said. "No other officials gave any indication through hand signals that they disagreed, and the officials began to leave the court. I could not tell you what happened in the interim."

The NJSIAA issued a statement on Wednesday, saying, in part, "Later, after being shown video clips, the second official agreed the basket should have counted. That said, the rules are clear -- once game officials leave the 'visual confines of the playing court,' the game is concluded, and the score is official."

Manasquan players were beside themselves, their hopes of a historic win dashed by a technicality that seems unjust and cruel.

"Right now, we want to embrace our team, and we're going to celebrate their accomplishment," Manasquan Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Kasyan said.

Needless to say, social media had its say over the controversial ending. 

Victory was snatched away from Manasquan, but everyone knows who should be playing Arts High School of Newark in the state championship on Saturday. Manasquan plans to appeal to the state commissioner of education with the hopes a correction can be made. But, obviously, the clock is ticking.

"We won. We're not going to play on Saturday. Well, we might play on Saturday according to what their determinations are. However, the board of education will celebrate this team with that victory they had last night," Kasyan said.

A lawsuit was filed seeking to overturn the call, but barring yet another unexpected reversal, the game will be remembered for the buzzer beater that wasn't.

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