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Officials' Foul-Up Has Coach Fuming

Bell-Jeff tournament: Guards lose in semifinals after best player is mistakenly assessed foul.

December 21, 1996|PETER YOON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BURBANK — John Cortes hit a three-point basket with 14 seconds left to give Eagle Rock High a 73-72 victory over Bell-Jeff in the semifinals of the Bell-Jeff tournament Friday night, but Guard Coach Eli Essa said the game was lost in the third quarter.

Essa benched his best player, Ruben Douglas, with 3:28 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the Guards leading, 45-39, when officials told him that Douglas had picked up his fourth foul.

Essa argued, claiming it was Douglas' third foul, and was assessed a technical foul.

With Douglas out of the game, Eagle Rock closed to 48-44 before the official scorer said Douglas had only three fouls. Apparently a foul by Kenny Esteves, who wears number 55, was mistakenly charged to Douglas, who wears No. 5.

"If ever the referees cost us a game, that was it," Essa said in a post-game tirade. "That changed the whole momentum of the game, I had to sit my best player and I got a [technical] out of it."

Eagle Rock will play Cleveland in the championship game at 8 tonight.

Even 10 minutes after the game, Essa was chastising the officials.

"You cost us the game!" he shouted as the officials left the gym.

Douglas had 23 points and Kent Dennis added 17 for the Guards.

Cleveland 78, Leuzinger 77--Ben Edwards' layup with two seconds remaining in overtime moved the Cavaliers into the tournament final.

Cleveland got the ball with 24 seconds to play and held it for the last shot. Jerome Grant, starting from the top of the lane, drove toward the basket with five seconds remaining.

When the Leuzinger defense collapsed on Grant, Edwards cut toward the basket from the right corner and Grant hit him with a no-look pass.

Donald Holt intercepted Leuzinger's ensuing inbounds pass.

Cleveland tried a similar tactic at the end of the fourth quarter, holding the ball for 1:24 with the scored tied, 67-67, but Grant's three-point shot hit the back rim and bounced away.

Monroe 62, McNair (Canada) 51--Mark Cumbiss scored 22 points and John Ennis had 13 points and 12 rebounds and the Vikings (2-6) won a consolation game.

Birmingham 69, Lincoln 51--Emmanuel Evans scored 19 points and Ray Kizzee added 16 for the Braves (4-5) in a consolation game.

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