During the third quarter of a Kansas Class 1A-I state semifinal high school basketball game Friday, Thomas Atkins of Hanover High darted ahead of the Centralia defense for what looked like it would be an easy fast-break dunk. But as Atkins rose to the basket, a defender ran up from behind and shoved him mid-air, sending him careering into the stanchion.
The play was extremely scary. Here are a couple different views:
— Hayden Gillum (@tyler2544) March 10, 2018
Better look of the dirty push at the 1A State Tournament. Dirtiest Play of the Year? #DidntGetEjected #DemoteTheRefs @KSHSAA @sportsinkansas @KingJames @StephenCurry30 @NBA @SportsCenter @FBI pic.twitter.com/aaDfKJtpJx
— Dacey Hagedorn (@dacey_hagedorn) March 10, 2018
According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, the Centralia player who shoved Atkins was assessed a flagrant foul but not ejected from the game. Atkins exited after the fall but returned before long and wound up with 18 points in Hanover’s overtime victory, which earned the school a berth in the state title game.
We’ve seen a whole lot of dirty fouls over the years but never one quite like this. There was no basketball purpose to the shove. Whether due to maliciousness or simple inexperience, the Centralia player committed a foul that could have only one effect: an injury for the opposing player. Atkins soared toward the stanchion as if he had been shot out of a cannon, which is apparently what happens when you get pushed while moving and full speed and jumping into the air.
The stanchion is often a hazard for basketball players heading for the hoop, but in this case it probably helped break Atkins’ fall. Had the high schooler not collided with a padded wall, who knows how he might have landed.
Anyway, we’re happy that Atkins is all right and that the play looked more dangerous than it actually was.