Alice Campbell Havre Daily News email@example.com
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Harlem High School basketball coach Harlan Mount said in an interview Friday after his team forfeited their regional play off game against Shelby Feb. 26 due to a shattering dunk. The dunk, made by senior Isaiah Martin during pregame warm ups, caused the backboard to shatter. Montana High School Association tournament rules as they appear on their Web site, www.mhsa.org, state that: "If a team breaks a backboard while attempting to dunk a basketball during the pregame, that team will forfeit the game and be held responsible for the cost of the replacement of the backboard." The Harlem team was bumped into the loser bracket, and with Martin playing, won their next game against Poplar, but then lost to Cut Bank in overtime, said Harlem High School Principal and Activities Director Terry Bolen Monday. "We were supposed to play Shelby ... I'm sure they were frustrated at the same time not to be able to play," Bolen said. "It's an unfortunate incident. ... The rules are pretty black and white," Mount said. "I thought our chances were very good to go to state." Mount had warned his players the week before that dunking was not allowed after a discussion with referees. "The refs told us, 'If we don't see it, it didn't happen,'" he said of a conversation he had with referees after he noticed other players from different teams dunking. Other teams were dunking during the tournament warm ups as well, Mount said. He referred to a "monster dunk" the game before that "I could hear all the way in the dressing room." During lunch Monday when Pizza Hut donated Hershey's Chocolate Dunkers to the school's students, Martin said the dunking was part of a pregame ritual for his team. He didn't hang on the rim, but the board broke anyway. "It sucked, but it's pretty cool I broke the board," he said. The donated chocolate dunkers "lightened up" the school's overall mood, said Bolen. "We appreciate them stepping up and understanding the frustrating time we're going through." Bolen said the school will pay for the damages and, even though no official estimate has been made, said he thinks the cost will be between $500 and $700.