NCS officiating

So I’ve ran this theory by a bunch of people since I left the Washington-Deer Valley game tonight and it has made sense to everyone so far…

The general consensus is that the officiating was terrible across the board tonight with a common theme — way too many fouls. I think this directly correlates to the use of three officials at NCS games. The whole year, these kids have played with two officials and everyone gets used to that. But when NCS rolls around all of a sudden there is an extra set of eyes and an extra whistle on the court.

I wish there was an average foul per game number we could analyze because I guarantee it goes up with 3 officials instead of 2. It’s not like baseball where having more umpires obviously helps, in basketball the use of more officials definitely changes the game.

On the surface it seems like more officials would equate to a better officiated game, but there were quite a few free throw contests out there tonight and it shouldn’t be that way in the playoffs. It’s not fair to the kids who get used to games getting called a certain way all year, then having that change at the end when they are already under a lot of pressure.

This is not a knock on the individual refs, who for the most part do a good job, I just think the games should be officiated the same way in the playoffs as they were during the regular season.

Deer Valley coach Lindsay Wiley said she thought the team who’s superstar fouled out first was going to be the team that lost. Morgan Woodrow (Washington) fouled out with 2:19 left in regulation, Patrice Saindon (Deer Valley) fouled out at the end of overtime … Deer Valley wins by 5.

Food for thought.

Kyle Bonagura

Kyle Bonagura is a Pleasanton-based prep sports writer for the Bay Area Newsgroup-East Bay.

  • Jimmy Durkin

    I can’t say I necessarily agree with you Kyle. The OAL uses three officials for all of its games and I’ve never considered that to be a problem. Sure, there have been some games when a few too many fouls have been called, but the OAL tends to have physical games. Considering that, I’d say a lot of foul calls are let go and I don’t think having three officials in anyway is a negative. Quite the contrary, I think it helps get calls right when there’s a question of who’s possession it is and stuff like that. Maybe in other leagues with different styles of play, it’s a different story.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Yeah, but they use three officials for all of their games, that’s my point. They don’t add a fourth for the playoffs.

    Are the games officiated better with more? Maybe, but the kids have gotten used to having games called a certain way. So now all of a sudden stuff that didn’t get called is getting called. That’s the problem.

  • John

    Yea, I tend to agree that there should be one rule….since all teams will eventually meet in Norcals, and eventually State. If the playoffs, Norcal, NCS will require 3 refs, then all games must be officiated by 3 refs. After 20+ games the kids are use to playing with 2 refs. I think more eyes are better for the game, but use it the entire season, not just the playoffs.

  • Queenbee

    I agree that on one of the biggest nights of h.s. basketball, at the end of the season, you shouldn’t have to drastically change your playing style.

    Same way that the ref shouldn’t have called the DV point guard for carrying with 36 secs left in OT when there was nothing she was doing differently from the rest of the game.

    You want consistency in the game, between the teams, and over the season. Why not in the playoffs?

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Is it unilateral that they go to the three refs in NCS games? I’ve only covered one (Amador-Berkeley) since I mostly cover OAL games and there were only two refs in that game.

  • Washington Dad

    I couldn’t agree more with Kyle’s and Queenbee’s comments…

    Having three refs with three styles led to much inconsistency at the DV/WHS game. And…to make a carry call late in the game – inexcusible.

  • Washington Dad

    Just another thought though – refereeing in general at MVAL has been deterioting over the last 3 years. It really is a shame to see the crowd (and yes sometimes its me) yelling to the point where the game isn’t enjoyable. I’m curious if coaches feedback can really help improve that? I asked around regarding boys games – pretty much the same – crummy…

  • Queenbee

    It’d be interesting to hear what people who know good officiating looks like to comment – after some time/strong emotion has passed. Depending on where you sit, you see things differently and realize maybe the refs aren’t quite so blind as you think. Seems like a pretty tough sport to officiate. And everyone sure has strong opinions – in one direction.

    I wonder what the players think too. And what they think of parents going gonzo. I can’t imagine it’s helpful (what would players find helpful from the stands?).

  • dmiller


    There’s a couple of comments I want to make about officiating, not just in basketball — but let me get to your point first.

    It is true that with three officials, more fouls are called. I’ve seen it happen for as long as they’ve been using three officials in the postseason. What needs to happen with each individual league, is what the EBAL did this year. After seeing more fouls called in the postseason because of there being three offcials, the EBAL went to three officials in a lot of their league games this year, thus getting the kids used to having three officials on the court. It helped big time. That EBAL teams didn’t make it to the finals wasn’t because of foul trouble, but rather, they weren’t as good as other teams. Niveen Rasheed of Monte Vista did fould out against Berkeley last night, but it was in the (third?) overtime. More leagues should bring on three officials during the league season and it will help the kids adjust.


    Take last night for example. How many basketball games were being played throughout the entire Bay Area last night? I bet there was a crap load of games. If every game has three officials, that’s a lot of offcials (it would be a lot even with two). That being the case, what are the odds of getting three good officials at any one game? And before anyone gets crazy and suggests that Div. I should have better officials, remember that D-I games are no more important to the people who play and their families, than D-5 games.

    With the sheer number of referees needed, there is no way we can get quality refs out to every game. I think people need to be happy we have any refs at all and the games are able to be played.

    It’s the same thing which applies to football, soccer, baseball and softball.

    I’ve had 16 years covering prep sports to develope this theory and I think it’s pretty sound.


  • Washington Dad

    I’m a high school referee and how I was trained was … be consistent. What I’ve seen throughout the 3 years is increasing inconsistency.

    Individually I thought the woman official was consistent and on par with collegiate officials. The men at times were quiet…too quiet given the level of attention by their partner. And then the carry…very bad. Had they called that earlier in the game, the guard could have adjusted her play.

    There were good calls last night, but those get lost in the inconsistency.

    I’m now looking forward to collegiate ball and better officiating.

  • Queenbee

    Washington Dad – I assume from your moniker you have a daughter on the team. What do the players think about the officiating or is it kind of a waste of time for them to spend much time thinking on that?

    What do they think of parents who get on the refs? Do they notice? Do they perform best when there’s just an excited wall of noise coming at them? (vs. the lame ‘air ball’ chants)

  • Jose

    That is an excellent point about how many games are played on one night vs. how many good refs there are to go around. I have no idea how these playoffs are scheduled, but it sure would be nice if the games were staggered, not just for the officiating, but so that we fans could see more games. I opted for the Moreau girls last night over the NM-CV game, and boy, what a disappointment!!

  • Washington Dad

    Queenbee: #1 issue is inconsistency. Of course no player will say that the officiating was good but I know that when there’s consistency, a good player can adjust their way of playing to keep foul count down and typically the spectator gets a fantastic game.

    Officials are taught to ignore crowds… They are encouraged to explain calls with coaches … I was once told that my evaluator can tell how well I’m doing by watching the game flow and crowd. I think you’d agree – there’s a big difference between excitement and yelling. Lately, there’s been too much yelling.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    WashDad- I agree, the inconsistency is the problem. I thought the American game was actually officiated pretty well. Carbonel got called on the carry from nearly the start of the game and they called it on her three times I believe. She was able to adapt and didn’t get called for it late in the game.

    When Saindon was called for carrying with under a minute to play it was a joke. She had been getting away with it all game and then to call it at the end wasn’t fair to her or Deer Valley.

    The phantom charge on Morgan was ridiculous, especially at that point in the game.

    Megan MacLeod picked up a couple fouls where she was standing straight up with her hands were straight up, then other times she would be hacking and nothing was called.

  • queenbee

    Not sure where this question belongs: 4 of the 5 writers/bloggers picked Washington over DV. What do you think went wrong for Washington?

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Queenbee- I don’t think anything necesarily went wrong. They took the top-seeded team to overtime on the road, despite losing a senior starter to grades, having to fight foul trouble, losing Woodrow with 2 mins left and they came back from a 9-point deficit in the first half, then a 5-point deficit with under a minute to play.

    AND, as you know, that game still could have gone either way.

    But, because you asked, I’d have to say that poor free throw shooting probably was the thing they couldn’t overcome. Deer Valley gave them a lot of chances by being even worse at the line, but Washington shot below 50% — which isn’t like that team.

  • queenbee

    Thanks for the responses all. It really was something how they came back (& led!). I thought rebounding was also a weakness.

    What a way for Woodrow to end her high school career – unfortunate. But looking forward to hearing about her (& Carbonel’s) college career.

  • Mark E Fischer

    I have officiated for 30+ years and we do have good and bad day’s. I have always tried to give my all to the kids, but you will always have the parent friction.
    One the majority of the remeber the rules back when they played , the rules have gone better and the parents need to read the rules or even come out and officiate a game or 2, then we can watch you and asked you why you missed that travel or a 3 second call.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Mark what are your thoughts on having two vs three officials during a game? Would you concur that more fouls are called when there are three and the game changes?

  • Mark E Fischer

    Prep Basketball today is so fat that the game warrant three officials at the Varsity level, why did the NBA and NCAA go to three officials those games needed the best game from the players and not the cheaters, which is the same value we want to give the High school players, we train with college officials and and hope we can move to the next level someday, but yes the games need 3 officials for a better game for all. The cost was shared by our association to show the schools we do care about a better game for the strong matchups. Deer Valley has seen this for at least 3 years and their Wect Coast Jambree was officiated this way so we get training and the player get the best calls possible. I have worked for both EBBOA and CCBOA we as officials want to give the kids a good game and we try very hard.

  • Mark E Fischer

    3 officials would make allvarsity games better, more or less foul calls, their are better calls across the board. More, no the foul call’s are more to the play action, if parents learn the rules and remember first that this is a game, if they execpt us to call a game because tommy or mary is looking for a scholarship first think of a academic scholarship first and pass the ACT and SAT tests first, sports are secondary in life, education is primary, I turn wrench’s for a REAL living and my kid’s are both at CAL STATE, so my best wish’s to all players it that it is a game not life, 1 in 10,000 make it to the NBA/WNBA so life will go on, I still love officiating basketball , but it is not the NBA, so I have accepted my level, so should they.

  • queenbee

    Mark, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that 3 officials are bad or that officiating causes a kid to lose their scholarship. The problem is if you go from a season largely played with 2 refs, then MVALs with 3, then back to 2 for the quarter final and then 3 for the semi (or something like that). Just because one team is often near the top and has this experience doesn’t change the fact that the number 1 quality of good reffing (imo) is consistency – and not just individual reffing but the overall reffing picture.

    We know refs aren’t purposely missing calls (whatever the idiots in the stands say) or that strong academics are a good thing. But I understand how all the negative feedback and the culture of slamming the refs (vs. the players or the coaches – all making mistakes [& fans making mistakes too!]) could put a chip on your shoulder.

  • Mark E Fischer

    Queenbee, You do understand that most referee’s are their so the game is still a game, My main goal as an official is that the player have a great social interaction with others, I was anEast Oakland kid and I remeber in the 70’s when all varsity OAL games where played with out fans at Laney, which was to me great loss for families. But I will aways serve the best Ican for the kids, Please enjoy your kids along as youcan.

  • basketballfan

    Mark, I liked your articles about your officiating and comments, but beware of Bill Vegas. He probably will make bad comments on your grammar and tell you how foolish you look to thousand of readers who read these blogs. He has nothing better to do than try to put good people down like you and me. We are human and we do make spelling mistakes. He hammered a recent article written about some girls from Washington, just because of some improperly used grammar, like there, rather than their or team mates, rather than teammates. You are right when you say it is education first and sports second. Have a nice day.