A defensive tipped ball that quickly develops into what appears to be a routine breakaway dunk suddenly turns into an ugly-looking play that has B-4 trying to tap his missed dunk attempt into the basket while hanging on the ring.
You are the Trail official transitioning to be the new Lead and ‘button hook’ to get a better look at the play.
B-4’s momentum causes his legs to swing out from under him while his tap of the missed dunk falls to the floor.
Sheer instinct, or rule knowledge, causes you to blow the whistle.
So what do you have?
- Is this a violation?
- Is this a technical foul?
- Is this legal and you have an inadvertent whistle?
A good official, like a good detective, has to know what the critical pieces of evidence need to be examined in order to determine if a ‘crime’ has actually been committed.
In this case the key factors are:
- Was the ball inside or outside of the cylinder when B-4 tapped it?
- Was B-4 hanging on the ring to avoid being injured?
If the ball was inside the cylinder when B-4 tapped/touched it, then the ruling would be offensive basket interference.
If the ball was outside the cylinder when B-4 tapped/touched it, the contact was legal.
The second issue of B-4 hanging on the ring is a more subjective matter.
If in your judgment, B-4 was hanging on the ring to prevent injury because his legs swung out from under him, then you could rule that his actions were legal and did not warrant a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Safety is always a paramount concern and you can find a measure of comfort in making this ruling from the inevitable storm of criticism that is sure to rain down on you and your crew from Team A’s head coach and faithful followers.
But if the radar in your gut tells you that B-4’s primary interest was in minimizing his embarrassment for missing the dunk and that he gained a distinct unfair advantage by grabbing the ring to defy gravity and attempt to score high above his opponents, then you would be on solid ground to rule this a technical foul.
The battle cry at 60 Seconds on Officiating is, “rule competency breeds calmness and confidence in chaos” and the above scenario would certainly benefit from knowing the rules pertaining to basket interference and for hanging on the ring to quickly assemble your ruling.
NFHS Rule reference
Case Book 9-11-1B and 10-4-3