That score is wrong, but it’s correct

I actually covered some high school sports when I was a U.S. Army journalist in upstate New York, starting in 1990. So, yeah, I’ve been doing this a long, long time.

Every once in a while, I still get to say  … “I’ve never seen that.”

Well, it happened Monday night at Columbia River High School while I covered the Chieftains’ boys basketball game against Ridgefield.

The scoreboard was wrong. (But actually it wasn’t.)

Sure, a scoreboard being wrong is nothing new. It happens often. Usually just for a few seconds. It quickly gets corrected. Sometimes it gets corrected at the next stoppage of play.

But always. I mean ALWAYS, someone notices it when the score is wrong. Perhaps it’s an assistant coach who quietly walks over to the scoring table to inquire. Usually it’s a fan SCREAMING that the score is wrong.

(There is one team in Southwest Washington that has a fan base that is obsessed with the scoreboard. If it’s wrong for a nano-second, someone will be screaming, questioning the very existence of life itself! … Clearly that fan base was not at my game Monday.)

This was the first time I can remember that the score was wrong and absolutely no one from the team that it negatively affected noticed… for almost an entire half. No coaches. No players. No fans.

Here is what happened:
Columbia River was leading Ridgefield 21-15 early in the third quarter when Jacob Hjort made a long shot that appeared to be a 3-pointer. The official, however, quickly ruled that Hjort’s foot was on the line, and he signaled a 2-pointer with two fingers extended out near his hip. (A 3-pointer signal is hands about the head.)

As long-time readers know, I keep a play-by-play of every basketball game I cover, so I wrote down 23-15 in my notes, with a JH to show Jacob Hjort with the shot. I would have written JH3 if he had made a 3-pointer.

Ridgefield came back with a bucket, then River made a free throw. That should have made the score 24-17. But I looked up and it said 25-17. After two more free throws for River, it said 27-17. But my notes had 26-17.

At this point, I usually just figure I made the mistake. I double-checked my notes. I remembered that long 2-pointer. I would ask after the game if the officials had come over and changed their minds and called it a 3-pointer.

After the game, I checked, and both books had Hjort with a 3-pointer.  So technically, the score was correct. However, both books also said an official never came over to change a 2- to a 3-pointer. (This is not intended in any way to be a negative toward the people keeping the book. It is not an easy job. And this particular shot was really close to a 3-pointer, plus, if I recall, the attempt was close to the expiration of the shot clock. There was a lot going on right then. It was easy to just jot it down as a 3-pointer.)

It turned out, even Jacob Hjort’s parents, who run the Scoreboard Live app for the team, also had what I had. They saw that the first 3-pointer of the second half was actually a 2-pointer. So the app was off from the scoreboard, too. (They do not sit near the scorer’s table so there was nothing they could do.)

By the way, I’m not allowed to say anything. Not my job. I can’t be the one asking for a point to be taken away from a team.

I just hate it when my notes don’t match the scoreboard.

It reminded me of of a time at the state tournament — YES, the state tournament —  when a score was wrong for about four minutes of game time. I was going crazy (on the inside) because I knew I was right, but how could it be wrong at the state tournament? A few people who matter (I’m not one of them) did inquire at a stoppage of play, and it was corrected.

In Monday’s case, though, it would have had to have been noticed real quick, to get the officials over to determine if the shot was a 2- or a 3-pointer. If it had been noticed right away, the book keepers could have asked if that previous shot was a 2 or a 3. The officials usually can remember such shots, if they are asked quickly enough.

But because no one from Ridgefield noticed, well, then it’s just a tough break for the Spudders.

“I’m cool with it,” Hjort said with a smile after the game.

Hjort finished, officially, with 20 points and three 3-pointers. And Columbia River won by 16 points.

Final score: Columbia River 53, Ridgefield 37. (No one will remember that it was 52!)

The Hjort family and I were just happy it was not a one-point game.

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