At full speed, the video of Centralia High basketball player Nathan Rempe pushing Hanover’s Thomas Atkins as he leaped to the basket for a dunk is horrifying.
It’s even worse in slow motion, watching Atkins complete the dunk but lose control of his body, ducking his head to miss the backboard and awkwardly crashing into the goal standard before falling off it and writhing on the floor in pain. He got up and later returned to the game.
The incident in the second half of a Class 1A-Division I semifinal Friday in Hays was one of the worst moments in state tournament history. Rempe knew Atkins was in the air, yet left his feet himself to push Atkins from behind in the waist and send him flying.
What happened next wasn’t any better. The referee called a flagrant foul on Rempe, but didn’t eject him. Rempe’s Centralia team lost the game and returned Saturday for the third-place game.
Centralia coach Cole Alderfer didn’t start Rempe in the third-place game, but he played in a loss to St. John. It was a punishment far less than the incident deserved.
Alderfer and Centralia’s administration needed to be the adults and show Rempe his error by not allowing him to play in Saturday’s game. Any play that dirty, which could be watched over and over on the team’s own video or on social media, is grounds for punishment beyond taking away a starting assignment. Atkins could’ve been seriously hurt.
To Atkins’ credit, he tried to cool the social-media outrage. “everything blew up and now it’s out of hand,” he wrote Sunday on Twitter. “that kid later apologized to me and we shook hands all is well between us.”