Gov. Phil Murphy chimes in on controversial New Jersey boys basketball game: 'I feel very badly'


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A controversial ending in a New Jersey high school boys’ basketball playoff game has made its way to the top of government in the Garden State, as Gov. Phil Murphy gave his thoughts on it Thursday. 

The game between Manasquan High School and Camden High School has made its rounds on social media, as video shows the former hit a buzzer beater that should’ve won them the game. However, after referees reviewed it together on the court, it was ruled that the basket didn’t count and Camden moved on to the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 2 final, which will be played this Saturday at Rutgers University. 

Manasquan immediately put in an appeal to the NJSIAA to have the result overturned, but they were denied. Manasquan school district is even looking for legal action to protest the result of the game, which the NJSIAA admitted the officials got wrong. 

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Phil Murphy speaks

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gives a speech on Jan. 31, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Murphy feels for everyone in Manasquan, though he revealed he can’t do anything on his end about the result. 

“Based on all the objective observations, the last-second shot by that kid… left his hand before the buzzer,” he said at an event in Asbury Park, via NJ.com. “I feel very badly, particularly for the players and coaches and their families that had one snatched from them. But apparently, NJSIAA is not gonna review it, and the result is the result.”

As Murphy said his piece, the Manasquan school district is exploring legal action to overturn the game, with Superintendent Dr. Frank Kasyan hoping to get an injunction in to stop games moving forward. 

NEW JERSEY SCHOOL DISTRICT EXPLORING LEGAL ACTION AFTER CONTROVERSIAL BASKETBALL GAME DECISION: REPORT

“I don’t know what can happen, that is why I turned it over to Michael Gross, our school board attorney,” Kasyan told the Asbury Park Press. “I would like to see him get an injunction from the court to stop the games until our protest is heard, because a lot of time what happens is you’ll protest, it drags on, and then it becomes a moot point. So the game is Saturday. This has to happen quickly, and he’s on it.

“I just want to see a just and ethical decision being made by the NJSIAA, and that is what those officials are there for. This is something different. There is physical evidence that shows the game wasn’t over, and the ball went through, so there you have it.”

Murphy added that he has “no insight” on a potential lawsuit being filed, adding, “It’s a crushing way to lose the game.”

The NJSIAA issued an apology to Manasquan on Wednesday in a lengthy statement, admitting after reviewing video evidence circulating online that officials got the call wrong. 

A referee and a basketball

Camden beat Manasquan after a controversial reversal. (Lance King/Getty Images)

But, due to its rules, it can’t overturn games based on that evidence as well as the officials leaving the court with Camden deemed victorious. 

“Here, all of the events happened within the final second of the game,” the statement read. “One of the three officials counted the basket as beating the buzzer. The three officials then met at half-court to confer. A second official saw the ball in the shooter’s hands when the buzzer sounded. The officials then waived off the basket. Later, after being shown video clips, the second official agreed the basket should have counted.

“That said, the rules are clear – once game officials leave the ‘visual confines of the playing court,’ the game is concluded, and the score is official. So, while the officiating crews’ reports indicate that a post-game review of footage of the play in question convinced them that the basket should have counted, the results could not then and cannot now be changed.”

NEW JERSEY HS BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF GAME ENDS IN CONTROVERSY OVER BUZZER-BEATER: ‘THEY SCREWED THESE KIDS’

The NJSIAA also pointed to its regulations, including “no video or audio recording may be used to review or challenge the decision of a sports official.” Instant replay is not used in New Jersey high school games.

Manasquan school district released a statement after reading what the NJSIAA had to say. 

“We appreciate the NJSIAA’s transparency in admitting the error in the calling of last night’s Group 2 Semifinal Boys Basketball game and appreciate their apology,” it read. “It is indeed ‘frustrating,’ however, that the NJSIAA refuses to exercise its discretion to remedy a situation that was so obvious and well documented. 

Gov. Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers the State of the State address at the New Jersey State House in Trenton on Jan. 10, 2023. (Aristide Economopoulos/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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“In our unwavering support of our players, coaches and families, the District will continue to pursue any available appeals we can to vindicate the values of fair play and integrity that should be the hallmarks of interscholastic athletics.”



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