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Smith's ejection wasn't warranted

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By Josh Claywell

TreVon Smith didn’t deserve to get ejected.

He didn’t deserve to miss one of the biggest games of his high school career, either.

But that’s how the Taylor County senior’s career ended, with Smith dressed in street clothes during Saturday’s Boys’ 5th Region Tournament championship game against John Hardin at Hart County.

Smith was ejected late in Friday’s semifinal contest against LaRue County after officials removed him and LaRue County junior Warner Bryan from that game.

Smith and Bryan got tangled up on the court in overtime, and the game was stopped for around 10 minutes as the referees tried to sort things out.

It was a lengthy delay, and the crowd grew more and more restless as the 6th Region crew huddled and tried to figure out what to do.

In the end, they opted to eject Smith and Bryan from the game – which Taylor County won, 63-56 to advance to the region final. Bryan had received a technical foul earlier in the game, so he would have been ejected regardless after receiving another technical.

Smith’s ejection, however, wasn’t warranted. The senior didn’t throw any punches – and neither did Bryan – and was trying to protect himself as he and Bryan tussled over the ball.

There were other players from both teams who should have been at least assessed a technical foul for their roles in the altercation, but to throw Smith out was a stretch.

His ejection meant he would have to sit out Saturday’s championship game against John Hardin, an unfair penalty that cannot be changed, according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s bylaws.

Bylaw 21 says protests against judgment decisions of contest officials made during the course of a game or meet shall not be considered. Decisions of officials in scrimmages or games, including ejections, cannot be protested to Commissioner Julian Tackett or the KHSAA’s Board of Control.

“The decision of the official, right or wrong, shall prevail,” the bylaw reads. “The commissioner’s office will intercede only when ejected players or coaches have been misidentified, when the situation involves an incident or fight where video is available to ensure accurate punishment per the Board of Control video review policy, or when an administrative misapplication of a playing rule has resulted in an erroneous ejection.”

Taylor County’s administration appealed the decision prior to Saturday night’s game, requesting Smith be reinstated immediately. But Taylor County Athletic Director Paul McQueary said he was informed there is no appeal for the ejection from the officials.

“I, as well as our coaching staff, are saddened for our players – but we respect the decisions of the KHSAA and officials,” McQueary said in a release Saturday afternoon.

Taylor County coach Jeff Gumm was none too happy with the KHSAA’s decision, and he was disappointed in the governing body’s lack of desire to look into the incident.

If the KHSAA had investigated, Smith might have been cleared to play in the region final.

“It’s an unfortunate incident, and I think Tre was the victim,” Gumm said. “The referee told me he ejected Tre because he threw a punch. It’s clear on the tape that he did not throw a punch. I think that the KHSAA claims to be an organization for kids, but you can’t even appeal an unwarranted ejection. To me, that’s not right. In other words, if the referee made a mistake, let’s admit the referee made a mistake and not punish the kid – especially if it’s the finals of the region.

“I just don’t think it’s right, and I’ll never agree with that decision,” he added. “That’s just not fair. If he had hit the guy, if he had thrown a punch of if he had started it, I would have understood. But he is the victim, and they eject him from the game. I just don’t think that’s fair.”

It’s not fair, right or just that Smith’s career ended the way it did.

But Smith handled everything well, probably better than anyone thought he might. That speaks to his character and the kind of kid he is.

Smith didn’t sit on the bench and sulk about missing the game. He was plugged in, helping his teammates see things they weren’t able to on the court and stayed engaged from the opening tip.

Asked if he had any regrets about what happened, Smith didn’t hesitate.

“No,” he said. “That incident with LaRue County, I don’t know what else I could have done to not get thrown out. But it happened and we’ve just got to move on.”