May 19, 2024

It was just an awful call, one of the worst you’ll ever see. After a missed shot in the closing seconds of a New Jersey high school state semifinal basketball game, a player from Manasquan High grabs the rebound and throws up a putback that clearly should have won the contest, seeing as it was out of his hands before the clock struck zero.


But, no, not for these unfortunate kids. The refs overturned the basket and awarded the game to Camden High School. You be the judge:

Manasquan felt the call was so egregious that they filed suit and raised objections, but ended up being denied recourse by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the courts, the Department of Education and the Appellate Division. I know it’s just a basketball game, but the system clearly did not deliver justice in this case.

“While the consequences of a particular call may be unfortunate for a team, the NJSIAA’s regulations recognize the reality that game officials’ calls are frequently disputed, and that permitting such calls to be challenged on the basis of error would result in ongoing litigation, appeals, and scheduling issues, since no game could be considered final if its outcome is disputed in court as a result of an alleged error by officials,” the Appellate Division said of its decision.

Blah blah blah—we know you were robbed but them’s just the breaks.


So Camden went on to the championship game, and guess who was there? Players from Manasquan who cheered on their rivals and even gave them a standing ovation as they won a state championship. A state championship that Manasquan should have been competing for. 

The [Manasquan] Warriors continue to show tremendous integrity and character in the face of adversity.

That’s a class move, folks. Yes, they were also there to cheer on the Manasquan girls’ team, which was playing in their own state finals, but they didn’t have to cheer on Camden or act with such grace when their hearts must have been broken.

Camden coach Maalik Wyans spoke after the championship game, and even though he said all the right things, I can’t help but come away with the feeling that he and his players have to know deep down that they didn’t really win this legitimately. I’m guessing that may not be a popular opinion—many feel you play with the cards you are dealt, and it’s just tough luck for Manasquan—but it’s hard not to come away with the conclusion that those young kids were robbed.


On a personal note, my son—who got the height gene that seemingly bypassed me—played on a top-level high school basketball team that competed for the state championship in basketball-rich California, and I know the passion and dedication that goes into such endeavors. Losing is absolutely gut-wrenching, but to have a win stolen must be on an altogether different level. For those who have not been involved in the powerful emotions of organized competition, I can tell you that these kids will remember this moment for the rest of their lives. 

Regardless, the fat lady has sung, the game is over, the champions are crowned, and life moves on. I salute the Manasquan team for taking the high road and showing what true sportsmanship is.

For that, even though they didn’t pull anyone out of burning cars or save someone whose life was in jeopardy, I vote for them as heroes for showing class—something we see too little of these days.

This is one in a series about everyday heroes that don’t necessarily make the front pages. It’s a chance to talk about something other than Joe’s rantings, Hunter’s depravity, and tragedy in the Middle East.


I’m inviting readers to send me stories of people they know or who they’ve read about who have done heroic acts—large or small, physical or otherwise—that have made someone’s life better or saved them from danger. Please email me with any tips at [email protected] or DM me on Twitter. Thanks!

Thanks for reading. Here’s more Hoge’s Heroes:

Hoge’s Heroes: Amazing Footage as Hero VT Police Officer Dives Into Icy Pond, Saves Drowning 8-Year-Old

Hoge’s Heroes Sunday: 30 High School Kids Lift Car off Pinned Mom and Baby

Hoge’s Heroes Saturday Edition: A Pod of Dolphins Saves Mama and Baby Whale

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