No question: Mountaineers were robbed

There is no question about it:

The Iron Mountain High boys basketball team was robbed of a state championship last Saturday at Breslin Center in East Lansing.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association can sugar-coat it all it wants, but this was a pure case of highway robbery.

The officials working the game botched up the final 20 seconds of Iron Mountain’s game versus Pewamo-Westphalia.

Their biggest error was calling a traveling violation against an I.M. player in the waning seconds. There’s no way the player traveled, and there is no way an official makes a call like that …. in a situation like that.

The final play of the game was the shady call at best. To call a foul, and an intentional one at that, was way below the standards.

Sure, the MHSAA has made a case of cracking down on intentional fouls this season (with very little publicity). But that was made primarily to slow down on the number of “hatchet” fouls prevalent in the Detroit Public Schools League.

If you’ve ever watched a PSL game, you’ll know what I mean.

I firmly believe there isn’t a single referee in the U.P. who would have blown the whistle on those two plays.

Sports history has more than its share of blown calls that have cost athletes and teams.

The New Orleans Saints were deprived of a berth in the Super Bowl just this past season when an obvious penalty was ignored by the zebras.

And former Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga lost a perfect no-hit game a few years ago when umpire Jim Joyce made one of the all-time bad calls.

If you want perhaps the most egregious case of bad officiating, take the 1970 Olympic championship basketball game between the United States and Russia.

The refs in that case kept giving the Russians the ball after the final buzzer had sounded —- until they finally won it.

Now, it can be safely said the Saints and Galarraga were professional athletes who were paid a princely sum for their efforts.

But the 1970 U.S. basketball team —- and Iron Mountain’s boys basketball team — are amateurs.

The Mountaineers, who return stars Marcus Johnson and Foster Wonders next year, may very well get another shot at a state championship.

But if they don’t, you can bet they’ll remember the fateful ending to last week’s game for a very long time ….