The play is textbook transition basketball. Scarborough’s Jaquan Seme makes a perfect long, cross court pass to Reece Lagerquist, who drives strong to the basket and does what any player his size and ability would do. Lagerquist dunks the ball, strongly flushes it through the cylinder for two easy points. As Lagerquist turns to run back up the court, the whistle screeches like an unexpected fire alarm.

Technical foul.

As far as dunks go, Lagerquist’s was plain old vanilla. He didn’t showboat. He didn’t hang on the rim, or scream, or taunt his opponent. He grabbed the rim, though, and in the eyes of the old men who are in charge of Maine’s high school basketball officials, that is a no-no.

Lagerquist’s crime against basketball was, he made too athletic a play. He used his basketball instincts and did the right thing.

Lagerquist’s unwarranted technical foul came almost a week after the same thing happened to Seacoast Christian’s Jet Archer. In a Class D South regional quarterfinal win over Forest Hills at the Augusta Civic Center, Archer made a one-handed dunk on a breakaway.

Whistle. Technical.

What?

This has to stop. Whatever rule Archer, Lagerquist, and any other player who has seen a dunk greeted by a technical foul, broke is ludicrous. It’s outdated, a relic of days when many gyms did not have breakaway rims. It’s enforced by old men who either can’t, won’t, or refuse to accept that the game has evolved. Athletes at all levels are better than they were in the past. They dunk. It’s not showboating. It’s not taunting. It’s not unsafe, or whatever other excuses you’ll hear from those who will try to justify this asinine rule. It’s modern basketball.

For whatever it’s worth, social media outcry against these technical fouls was loud, and instant. Even University of Maine men’s basketball coach Bob Walsh weighed in.

“So I’ve been coaching in Maine for four years and was unaware of this issue until now. This is called a technical foul in the state of Maine. We TEACH our kids to dunk the ball when they get to the rim. Guess I shouldn’t recruit Maine kids. Absurd. Change it,” Walsh tweeted.

Old men in charge of everything have a knack for clinging to outdated norms. If something’s different than what they’re used to, it automatically must be bad. They wear blinders to reality.

Caught in the middle are the on-court officials who feel obligated to punish where no punishment is deserved. Maine’s high school basketball officials by and large do an excellent job under tough conditions. There’s simply not enough of them, and those we have are subject to constant abuse from the experts in the stands. They get a lot more right than the average fan would ever give them credit. The last thing officials need is to be told is to enforce this outdated, petty rule.

What adds to this archaic rule’s maddening enforcement is the inconsistency. Some dunks happen, and the game rightly goes on. Archer and Lagerquist each were alone under the basket when they dunked. Each could have made the play a show, and in that case, an argument could be made for a technical foul. Neither did. All either did was use his natural athletic ability to score two easy points for his team.

More players can dunk than in the past. A rule designed for play in 1958 isn’t working in 2018. The sooner the old men in charge of officiating Maine high school basketball realize this, the sooner we can throw one down with authority, and step fully into the basketball 21st century.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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