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Debate over Lumen Christi’s Region II basketball title persists, days after game finished

Basketball
Basketball(KTUU)
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 9:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The drama surrounding the Region II boys’ basketball tournament remains, even days after the final buzzer sounded between the Lumen Christi Archangels and Ninilchik Wolverines.

The official score book had the Archangels winning 72-71 over the Wolverines in overtime, thanks to an incredible game-winning shot from Lumen Christi’s Brendon Gregory. The two teams went back and forth all game, and things got interesting in overtime when Ninilchik made a layup with time expiring to apparently win the game.

Shortly after, however, referees put .5 seconds on the clock, ruling Lumen Christi had called a time out. That half-second gave the Archangels one more opportunity to win, and that’s when Gregory sank what proved to be the game-winner.

“It’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of,” Lumen Christi head coach Adam Trombley said over the phone Wednesday.

The Wolverines argued time had expired before Gregory’s shot went in, and it shouldn’t have counted, but since the referees had already left the gym, the game was officially over. Ninilchik Assistant Coach Nick Finley said after the game that an official had told him they had gotten the call wrong.

“The referees sprinted off the floor, and I followed them,” Finley said. “I tried to encourage them to come back out on the floor.

“It was a heart-breaker,” he added. “Our kids went from ultimate high to an ultimate low.”

Ninilchik would immediately appeal the win by Lumen Christi, but a day after the championship, the Region II Board of Control would deny Ninilchik’s first appeal. The Wolverines would then file another appeal, arguing the referees were not certified.

If an official is not certified the Region II rules state, the host team has to forfeit and pay a $200 fine. In this case, Lumen Christi was supposed to be the host school when the tournament was originally scheduled, but that changed once the tournament was moved to Soldotna High School due to Anchorage city health mandates.

“The Region 2 Executive Board met on March 23 and determined that while Lumen Christi is listed on the Region 2 website as the “host school,” this only reflected the original tournament site,” wrote Region II President James Stickler in a prepared statement. “Lumen Christi did not perform a large majority of the Peninsula Conference Tournament handbook requirements to be considered a ‘host school.’”

In a letter provided to Alaska’s News Source, the Ninilchik High School principal announced he would no longer serve as the secretary and treasurer of Region II after the spring semester due to the way things were handled since the championship game.

“I didn’t sleep that night, and I don’t think anyone in Ninilchik did,” Finley said. “We’re in awe that nothing was done.”

While the Wolverines and their fans search for answers, the Archangels have moved on, and are preparing for the state tournament.

“The scoreboard proves that we won the game,” Trombley said. “People can say whatever they want, but we won the game.”

Trombley and Lumen Christi Athletic Director John Warren emphasized during their interviews that this was an unfortunate situation for Ninilchik, since bids to Alaska’s School Activities Association 1A state basketball tournament are limited to eight teams this year. They said they felt that during a normal year, Ninilchik would have received an at-large bid.

“The ASAA Constitution clearly states Region 2 along with the other five regions operate autonomously from ASAA and are solely responsible for their own decisions, actions and financial affairs,” Stickler wrote. “Region 2 considers this matter closed as Ninilchik has exhausted all the appeals processes allowed by the Region 2 bylaws.”

The only way for Ninilchik to qualify for the state tournament is if a team drops out before games begin at Colony High School on April 1.

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