Merced High boys basketball coach Hector Nava won’t be on the bench during Friday night’s game against crosstown rival Golden Valley.
Nava is forced to serve a one-game suspension after being ejected after the Bears’ 52-49 loss to Atwater on Wednesday night. Falcons senior Saul Avitia beat the Bears on a half-court shot at the buzzer.
Nava was upset with the officials at the end of the game, and says he wasn’t given any explanation for what transpired in the final seconds.
“I have the right to question officials,” said Nava on Thursday evening. “When they don’t give me answers, what am I supposed to do? We lost a three-point game that wasn’t managed correctly. I’ve got the film to prove it.”
Nava’s biggest complaint is the officials put extra time on the clock and didn’t inform him before the final game-winning play.
Nava says his player Dhameer Warren was called for a travel with 1.4 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter to turn the ball over to the Falcons with the game tied at 49-49.
After reviewing the travel call on video many times, Nava still disagrees with the call. He also said he tried to call a timeout when Warren had the ball, but one official said he didn’t grant the timeout because he didn’t believe Warren had possession of the ball.
“How can one official call him for traveling when there is no possession?” Nava said. “If he had possession, how come we didn’t get the timeout?”
What really had Nava fuming was the 0.6 seconds that were added to the clock to extend the time to 2 seconds remaining during a timeout after the travel call. Nava says neither official told him of the time added to the clock during the timeout.
“I come out from the timeout and see there are 2 seconds on the clock,” Nava said. “I tried to get the officials explanation and I didn’t get anything. I tried to get their attention. I can’t run on the court because they already told me not to come on the court. Now do I call a timeout? I didn’t and it cost us.
“On top of that, they didn’t start the clock on time. If you look on the film, the clock doesn’t start until the shot is at the top of its arc. It was an interesting ending. Officials are supposed to talk to coaches. They can’t ignore coaches. We get evaluated as coaches. Who is evaluating officials? The evidence is right there on film.”
Nava says he would have changed his defense if he knew the time was added.
“With 2 seconds you can still dribble and get a good look,” Nava said. “Instead of putting a guy on the sideline, I would have put a guy on the ball. That would have forced the guy taking the ball out of bounds to throw a lob. It’s harder to catch the ball cleaner on a lob pass. I should have called the timeout and then argued the call.”
Merced High didn’t find out that Nava was official ejected, which comes with an automatic one-game suspension, until Thursday when they received the report from the officials.
According to Bears athletic director Paul Hogue, Merced appealed the suspension on Thursday, but it was upheld by the league principals.
Assistant coach Jake Meneley will act as head coach for the Bears (12-8, 2-3 Central California Conference) in a key CCC matchup against the Cougars (14-6, 3-2 CCC).
The game is schedule for 7:15 p.m. at Cougar Arena.
Where will Nava be on Friday night?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I thought about maybe going to shoot in the gym. Maybe get a short workout in, drink a cold Pepsi. I haven’t decided yet.”
Despite the clock starting late, Nava says Avitia still would have got the shot off under 2 seconds.
“At the end of the game players have to win the game,” Nava said. “We put ourselves in that situation. We could have all done a little better, including myself. I could have called a timeout. Atwater won the game fair and square. I just wanted an explanation.”