An Indiana boys basketball game was the site of one of the strangest and most dramatic finishes of the season when what appeared to be an innocent mistaken identity of a free throw shooter precipitated a dramatic push that allowed one team to erase a five-point deficit with 15 seconds remaining in the game in an eventual 74-73 victory by South Bend Riley against Fort Wayne North Side.
On North’s inbounds play under the Riley basket, Jalen Jennings committed a foul with 5.8 to play. Keion Brooks, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who is ranked as one of the best small forwards in his class nationwide – the guy who coaxed Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and other coaches from major college programs to the game – drained his first free throw attempt.
That’s when the Riley bench erupted.
The Wildcat coaching staff argued that Kinnie actually should have been at the line. The officials agreed. The point was taken off the scoreboard and a technical foul was assessed.
Riley was awarded two free throws, then possession of the ball.
The situation falls under the ruling of an unsporting technical foul. Once the foul is called, the official indicates to the scorer’s bench who committed the foul and who should be shooting.
Brooks, who hit 5 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, immediately stepped to the line. Given everything that was happening so quickly, nobody noticed the mistake until after the shot was taken.
If you’re having a hard time putting that entire sequence together, here’s a shortened progression of what apparently happened: 1) Leading by three, North drew a foul under the basket, earning a one-and-one. 2) The player North sent to the line was not the one who was actually fouled, an infraction that resulted in awarding a technical foul against North. 3) Riley hit both of the free throws and then was fouled on the possession after the technical, earning two free throws to win the game with virtually no time remaining. Damezi Anderson hit both, after he had connected on both for the technical foul, handing Riley a stunning come from behind win and sending the team’s fans into delirium.
Not included in this entire sequence is another bizarre twist in the final 30 seconds of the game. Four of Brooks’ fourth quarter free throws came in the form of a personal foul and a technical that resulted from a half-empty Coca Cola can being thrown on to the center of the court by Riley fans.
In the end, those fans still got to see a win, thanks to a truly bizarre twist unintentionally engineered by a coaching staff that simply lost sight of who should be at the free throw line.
“I thought Keion had the ball when the foul was called,” North coach Shabaz Khaliq told the Tribune. “They said (Kinnie) was the shooter. Nobody knew who the shooter was.”