Whenever a call goes against a basketball team, you can count on fans to loudly accuse the referee of being in some way impaired. Usually it's the referee's eyesight that's called into question.
Mostly, those accusations are nothing more than sour grapes. But now, there's proof that some of those accusations might have some truth.
A few hours before the Central Lakes College Raiders men's basketball team dropped a 79-76 decision to the Madison Area Technical College Wolfpack Saturday, the referee who was to work the game pulled his car into a handicapped parking space where it sat for the afternoon. Maybe he figured with the cold weather the spaces wouldn't be monitored, sort of a "no-harm, no-foul" kind of a thing.
Once inside the gym, the referee had no trouble seeing other peoples' offenses as the Raiders and Wolfpack were whistled for a combined 37 fouls, including three technicals. The Wolfpack made 18 of 23 free throw attempts while the Raiders were sinking just five of eight. That margin proved to be the difference in the game.
"We were called for 23 fouls and Madison only had eight," said Raiders coach Jim Russell. "That tells you right there that we weren't really attacking inside and they were."
The Raiders were facing the Wolfpack in the final game of the Central Lakes Classic. The tournament had been cut short when two of the four teams in the field went home early because of threatening weather.
For 30 minutes, the Raiders looked like they would close the tournament with a convincing win. The inside scoring of Julian Greer and outside sniping of Garth McFadden staked CLC to a 46-36 lead as the first half ended. McFadden finished the contest with 23 points including, seven three-point shots. Greer added 20 points. They were the only Raiders to reach double figures.
The Raiders' 10-point halftime cushion held up until about the 10-minute mark of the second half. Then, a string of Raider misses and turnovers combined with some hot-handed Wolfpack shooters combined to wipe out the CLC lead. Madison's Shawn Cotton finally connected on a 3-point attempt that tied the contest 68-68 with 4:23 remaining.
A Raider technical and another Cotton 3-point basket capped a Wolfpack run that gave Madison a 76-70 lead with 1:40 left. A string of Madison free throws were answered by a couple of Greer layups that made the score at 78-76 with seconds left in the game.
The Wolfpack's Shane Ellis hit a free throw for a 79-76 Madison lead. When McFadden had a 3-point attempt rim out and Wade Mortenson had his follow-up blocked, Madison had pulled off a dramatic 3-point win.
"We played really well for about 30 minutes," said Russell, "but, like I told my guys, college basketball is a 40-minute game. Madison made their open shots and we missed ours. We kind of forgot what got us the lead. We got away from playing good defense and we ended up taking it on the chin."
The Raiders are off until Jan. 5 when they open their conference schedule with a home game against Hibbing. The break comes at a good time for the Raiders.
"These gentleman have worked hard so this is a good time for a break," said Russell. "This is a hard loss but hopefully we'll use it as a learning experience and next time out we'll play 40 minutes. Give Madison a lot of credit. They could have folded and gone home but they fought back."
Madison Area Technical (79)
Todd Johnson 12, Shawn Cotton 22, Brock Roder 16, Darryl Porter 9, Andy Christensen 5, Dan Kuehn 2, Shane Ellis 11, Casey Boatman 2. Team totals: FG 28 of 79 (35 percent), FT 18 of 23 (78 percent).
Central Lakes College (76)
Joe Sahlberg 5, Garth McFadden 23, Travis Senenfelder 6, Joe Nayquonabe 7, Joel Clough 9, Jay Mrozek 2, Wade Mortenson 4, Julian Greer 20. Team totals: FG 30 of 76 (39 percent), FT 5 of 8 (63 percent). Overall -- 4-6. Next game: Jan. 5 Hibbing at CLC.
3-point baskets -- CLC 11 McFadden (7), Sahlberg, Senenfelder, Nayquonabe, Clough; MATC 5 Cotton (2), Roder (2), Christensen. Total fouls -- CLC 22 (2 T); MATC 15 (1 T). Halftime -- CLC 46, MATC 36.
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