Paige Beacom heard the whistle and wasn’t alarmed.
“I thought it was a timeout,” the Council Bluffs Lewis Central freshman said.
So did most of those in attendance, but their opinions didn’t count. One whose did count ruled it a five-second violation. A few seconds later, the Lewis Central players and fans felt violated, after Cedar Rapids Xavier finished off a 50-45 Class 4-A state quarterfinal victory at Wells Fargo Arena.
OK, let’s set the stage again. Down 11 with less than three minutes left, the Titans staged a ferocious comeback, pulling within three on Beacom’s bucket in the lane with 50 seconds left. Ten seconds later, Aubrey Norville made a steal, giving Lewis Central a chance to tie.
Beacom found herself about 25 feet from the basket on the right wing. She held the ball for an extended period of time, unable to find an open teammate. However, she didn’t appear panicked.
“I didn’t think they were counting because I didn’t even see a girl in front of me,” she said.
As Beacom was looking for a teammate, Lewis Central coach Derek Archer at some point started calling for a timeout. The problem was no one was listening. Archer started moving down the sideline toward an official, and eventually the whistle came from across the court, near Beacom.
Five seconds. Xavier ball.
“I did everything I thought I could,” Archer said. “I don’t know what else I could have done to call a timeout in time. They didn’t look at it that way. They told me that the five-second call came first. So that’s just something you have to live with.”
The video on Cedar Rapids TV station KCRG’s website shows the end of the play which resulted in the five-count, but you can’t see Archer trying to call timeout in the frame. The defender guarding Beacom is not on her tightly, but could be within the six-foot distance required. It’s close.
Regardless, the worst offense in my opinion is that the officials didn’t huddle and discuss the play. The significance of that call certainly merited a huddle and quick discussion.
In the very next game, with 1:18 left in the first quarter, a similar situation occurred. One official called a timeout while another was calling a five-second violation. Immediately, one official hustled over to the other to talk it over and they made what they felt was the correct call.
For that not to happen in such a crucial situation is inexcusable.
“I would have liked to have had them at least conference,” Archer said. “The three of them get together and at least conference about it. But at the same time, they told me right away. Even the official that I was calling timeout to told me right away that the five-second call had come first. At that point, I knew there wasn’t really much I could do that was going to change anything. We just kind of had to live with it at that point.”
I respect officials. It’s a thankless job. I get tired of hearing uneducated fans complain about officials. Nine times out of 10, the loudest fans don’t know what they’re talking about.
There are numerous rapid-fire judgment calls in a game. But when you have a chance and you don’t make a full effort to try to make the correct call, it warrants criticism.
That said, one call did not decide the game. It simply prevented L.C. from having a chance to tie. We’ll never know if the Titans would have made a 3-pointer, or even scored at all on that possession. But they had plenty of chances to put themselves in better position to win that game.
Regardless of the controversy, it was a terrific season for the Titans. It also represented the last time sisters Natalie and Kye Madsen shared the floor as high school basketball teammates.
Natalie is a senior and Kye a freshman. The daughters of Kris and Kristi Madsen made the most of their one year together in high school.
“We’ve kind of thought about that since we were younger,” Natalie said. “That’s really been her goal, to work at it so she can play with me when I was a senior. I’m just really glad that we got to, and I’m so glad that she worked as hard as she did all these years to be able to play with us right now. My dad and our whole family just really wanted that.”
Archer knew that it had been Kye Madsen’s goal since at least the sixth grade to start one year with her sister.
“I’m just glad that they got the opportunity to do that, and they earned it,” he said.
A team with two senior and two freshman starters can be splintered by jealousy. Archer said that was anything but the case.
“The team chemistry is what it’s really affected,” he said. “These girls are so close. (The Madsens) may be sisters in real life, but a lot of these girls are sisters anyway.”
Archer said there is a distinct correlation between team chemistry and the ability to fight back from large deficits.
“In a time like tonight, when you’re facing adversity, you can see that,” he said. “You can see that togetherness, that close-knit bond, that, we’re going to pull through this together. And they nearly got it done.”
Natalie Madsen said she’s proud to have led the program back to state for the first time in eight years. She believes it will become a habit.
“Paige was saying this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” she said. “I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but it’s really not. They can do it every year.”
The other senior, Norville, dominated the interior with 28 points, five rebounds and four steals, despite giving up four inches to her opponent, Ashley Stulken.
“I’m an undersized post. I’ve known this my whole life,” Norville said. “Nothing was different tonight. I just had to take it at her.”
Archer said his seniors are the reason the Titans broke their state drought.
“I cannot thank them enough for what they’ve given the program, what they’ve given the other girls,” he said. “Both of those girls are, in my opinion, irreplaceable. They’re leaders on the court, they’re leaders off the court. And the greatest thing about those two is that they’re just as good a kids off the court.”
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402-444-1055, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/KWhiteOWH