Two Tennessee high school girls basketball teams were banned from a post-season tournament after they "made a mockery of the game" by tanking free-throws, making intentional turnovers, committing blatant rule violations and trying to shoot in their opponent's goal, officials said.
The suspensions came in response to a Feb. 21 game between Riverdale High School and Smyrna High School, who met in the round of a tournament that would determine who would be seeded third in a regional showdown. The winner of the game would have faced a powerhouse squad from Blackman High School, the defending state champions, officials said.
"Both teams played to lose the game," a referee told the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. The referee recalled watching each team play their backups from the start. Players on both sides passed the ball around with little apparent intention of scoring. When the Smyrna coach told his players to foul Riverdale to give them easy free-throw opportunities, Riverdale players intentionally missed the shots. In the third quarter, the referee said he called both coaches together after seeing Smyrna player try to shoot at the wrong basket.
In the end, Smyna won, 55-39. Afterwards, the TSSAA called a meeting with administrators from both schools, who apologized, association executive director Bernard Childress said in a letter outlining the case. Childress banned both teams from the post-season and put them on probation through the 2015-16 season.
Childress said he watched a video of the game, "which plainly shows the girls on both teams made no effort to compete in the spirit of fair play." He added in an email, "They made a mockery of the game by intentionally violating the rules."
Representatives from the two teams did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
— Jon Schuppe