LAINGSBURG — Laingsburg’s athletic department is appealing the final score of the boys basketball team’s 68-67 loss Jan. 7 at Potterville, citing apparent errors in the official scorebook that altered the outcome of the game.
In its letter to the Central Michigan Athletic Conference and the MHSAA, Laingsburg’s athletic department requests that Potterville investigate the incident and produce a statement and explanation for the discrepancy, and, if the Laingsburg scorebook is determined to be accurate, that Potterville vacate its win and the victory be awarded to Laingsburg.
“We strongly believe the points are indisputable. The final score was Laingsburg 67, Potterville 66. All official records should reflect it,” the letter reads.
The letter further states the school will accept any ruling by the CMAC and the MHSAA, and says the school is not interested in replaying the contest in full or in part.
“If nothing is done, consider what it means for the future and the lessons we are teaching our student athletes,” the letter states. “There is an agreement from both schools that during the contest there was an error with the scoreboard. There is a reason we have two scorekeepers, we request an official response from the MHSAA and the CMAC. It must be swift and decisive. It must be on behalf of what is right and just. … If allowed to stand, this will be a black eye for the MHSAA.”
MHSAA representative Geoff Kimmerly said, “I’ve never seen a situation like this in 20 years.”
There was no indication before press time of what action the conference or MHSAA might take, if any.
The controversy began after halftime. With “3:19 left to play in the third quarter the scoreboard changed and two points were added to the Potterville score, without a shot attempt being taken, incorrectly making the score 47-32 in favor of Potterville,” Laingsburg alleges.
The letter states the Wolfpack’s score was reduced to 30 points before the end of the team’s next possession “further compounding the initial error and making the score 47-30.”
With the score four points off, Laingsburg’s bench players, assistant coaches and bookkeeper noticed the error. Wolfpack coach Daniel Morrill was informed of the problem and requested a conference at the scorer’s table.
“Unfortunately, the officials were never buzzed over by the scorekeeper or the official bookkeeper from Potterville at the time of the obvious scoreboard mistake, which is protocol in any basketball contest,” the appeal reads.
Officials were called to the table at the end of the quarter — about 3 minutes of game time and 10 minutes actual time after the errors — and both sides came to the conclusion that Laingsburg had 40 points, not 38 as the scoreboard read, and the Wolfpack were given two points.
But, Laingsburg alleges, when the Wolfpack asked to correct the two points incorrectly awarded to Potterville, the home bookkeeper argued that the scoring was correct, even though the teams’ scorebooks did not match.
The bookkeeper allegedly insulted Laingsburg’s scorer, suggesting she was not paying attention when “No. 14” made a layup. Laingsburg officials say No. 14 wasn’t in the game when the error occurred and did not make a layup in the third quarter.
Officials told Morrill they had to go with the home scorebook, which is generally the rule in high school basketball. Morrill allowed the game to resume, but told officials, “I understand you have to go by their book. But so you know, they have 51 and not 53.”
The score entering the fourth quarter was 53-40 in Potterville’s favor and, according to the official book, the Vikings held on for a one-point win. Laingsburg, however, contended the Wolfpack actually won by a point.
Laingsburg officials say the video was reviewed and is available for other people to examine as well.
“Make no mistake,” the letter reads, “this is not about winning or losing. This is way more important than that. … This is about integrity. This is about foundational principles upon which we all operate.”