By Tim Malloy
Now what are we going to do?
As your pulse quickens in the immediate aftermath of the pregame dunks during a high school contest, you have to resist the urge to let your mind race like a student staring at an exam question and exclaiming, ‘I didn’t know that was going to be on the test!!’
Move the rule changes and Points of Emphasis for this season that were uppermost in your mind to one side of your brain and focus on how the dunking deed will impact Team A.
Keep in mind that scholastic basketball rules are like a bird in your hand. If you hold them too loose, you have no control and the game can easily fly away from you. If you hold them too tightly, you choke the life out of the game.
Knowing the rules will give you the confidence to calmly and confidently apply them to a situation where there is no doubt, in your opinion, that a rule infraction occurred.
If there is some debate that the rule violation occurred – in this scenario, pregame dunking – then you pass on enforcing the rule (i.e. you did not see the player dunk; or in your determination it was not a dunk, just an aggressive layup.)
The impulse to avoid a scenario that starts the game on a sour note is understandable; but officials don’t cause these scenarios, we clean them up.
To that end, under NFHS rules…
the official would charge players A-1 and A-2 each with a technical foul
… and award Team B FOUR free throws (TWO for each infraction) and possession to start the game with a throw-in at the division line.
Here’s some things to keep in mind:
The alternating possession arrow would be turned toward Team A’s basket when the ball is “at the disposal of Team B” for the ensuing throw-in to start the game.
The technical fouls charged to A-1 and A-2 will count towards their personal foul total (of 5) and technical foul total (of 2) before disqualification.
Additionally these technical fouls count towards A’s team foul total putting Team B two fouls closer to the bonus situation in the first half.
Each technical foul for the pregame dunking are recorded as indirect technical fouls to the head coach of Team A, and in states that use the coaching box, the first indirect technical would result in the loss of the coaching box privilege.
Furthermore, any total of direct plus indirect technical fouls totaling three, would result in the disqualification of the head coach.
Yes, three pregame dunks would mean the head coach’s night is over before it began, and his/her replacement would not have the use of the coaching box.
Clearly, the pregame dunk is a scenario you want to avoid, if you can (i.e. warn a player if their layup looked close to being a dunk), but do not shirk your responsibility to enforce a rule that is broken.
We have provided the knowledge to hold the rule on pregame dunking in your hand with the perfect grip to administer it correctly, as well as judiciously.
Rule Reference NFHS 4-19-5e; 10-4-3 (Casebook 6-4-1)