Note to reader: A statement from the NJSIAA released on Wednesday afternoon has been added to the end of the post.

BAYVILLE -- For a little under a minute, the scoreboard at Central Regional High School told the story of the game of the year in New Jersey and very likely the greatest win ever for one of the Shore Conference's most prestigious programs.

Manasquan 47, Camden 46

It was one of the greatest finishes to complete one of the biggest upsets the state and the Shore Conference had ever seen.

Only, it did not count.

That is what the three officials on the NJSIAA Group II championship game between Camden and Manasquan decided after Manasquan junior Griffin Linstra scored what appeared to be the winning putback that would have stunned Camden.

Video replay shows that Linstra scored as time expired, but after initially counting the would-be game-winner, the officials conferred near the scorers table and ruled that the basket came after the buzzer.

Video from livestream shows the referee signal that the basket was good, walk to the scorers table, where he and the two other officials were met by a Camden assistant lobbying that the basket did not count. The referees huddled and the same referee who signaled the basket counted motioned to the scorers table that the basket actually did not count.

Replay shows the ball in the middle of the cylinder when the final buzzer sounds. New Jersey does not allow for replay review to overturn calls either during or after games.

The aftermath was a chaotic scene that went from disbelief to celebration on the Camden side and jubilation to heartbreak on the Manasquan side. Camden had escaped with a 46-45 win in which the Panthers erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit by holding Manasquan scoreless over the final eight minutes.

At least, the official record will show that Manasquan went scoreless in the fourth quarter, but the video shows otherwise.

"They reversed the call," Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. "The referee in the C position in the middle signaled 'basket's good,' they huddled up and then 15 kids got screwed in front of 1,000 people. Print that. Print it five times. Those three guys huddled up and they screwed these kids in front of 1,000 people and that video will be on the internet for everyone to see.

Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau pleads his case with one of the officials following the final decision. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)
Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau pleads his case with one of the officials following the final decision. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)

"These guys beat Camden's ass in front of everyone in this gym and everyone on TV. (Camden is) a heck of a team -- well-coached, tough, defensive-minded -- but we outplayed them tonight and everybody saw it. God Bless you all."

Manasquan led for the entire game until there were 5.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Warriors took a 45-32 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers ratcheted up their defense and pulled to within 45-44 with 2:03 left on a layup by 6-foot-8 senior Alijah Curry.

On the prior possession, Manasquan junior Griffin Linstra missed an uncontested layup to lead to the transition opportunity.

With the game unravelling, Manasquan delivered back-to-back defensive stops thanks to sophomore Jack O'Reilly. The 6-4 sophomore blocked a shot on one possession, then came up with a deflection that forced a turnover on the next one, giving Manasquan the ball back with 12 seconds left and a 45-44 lead.

Camden committed its fourth team foul after Manasquan inbounded the ball with 9.6 on the clock. On the ensuing inbound, Manasquan freshman Rey Weinseimer got caught up against the baseline and tried to throw the ball off a Camden leg, but Emmanuel Joe-Samuel dodged the ball and Curry picked it up as he was fouled with 5.8 seconds left.

Curry delivered two clutch free throws to give Camden its first lead of the night.

Manasquan immediately pushed the ball up the floor and Weinseimer got off an off-balance three-pointer that hit the rim. Linstra made it to the basket unmarked, grabbed the rebound and quickly put the shot back up before the buzzer sounded.

The ball dropped through and Manasquan's cheering section stormed the court and the Warriors began celebrating winning an all-time classic state playoff game.

Less than a minute later, the game became a classic for much different, more infamous reasons.

Manasquan senior Luke Roy reacts after finding out Manasquan's winning basket was overturned. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)
Manasquan senior Luke Roy reacts thinking his team just won its Group II semifinal over Camden. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)

"I thought they were arguing about putting time back on, which they should have," Bilodeau said. "There should be about 0.6 seconds on the clock. That's what should happen. I thought it should be Camden ball right there (underneath the basket) with a chance to win."

Camden has lost just one game to a team from New Jersey since the start of the 2019-20 season, but Manasquan was in position to hand the Panthers their second in-state defeat in five seasons thanks to a career performance by 6-7 senior Alex Konov.

Konov finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting, including 7-for-8 from three-point range -- all coming in the first three quarters. Linstra added 10 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Weinseimer hit a pair of first-half three-pointers for six points.

Manasquan shot 13-for-23 from the field in the first half and 6-for-9 from three-point range to take a 34-20 lead into the locker room.

Camden advances to the Group II championship game Saturday at Rutgers University against Arts High School of Newark.

NJSIAA assistant Derryk Sellers -- who was the NJSIAA representative on sight -- declined to comment after the game.

Shore Sports Network reached out to NJSIAA executive director Colleen Maguire for comment and has yet to receive a response.

Update, Wednesday, 11:20 a.m.: Bilodeau said Manasquan submitted an appeal to the NJSIAA on Tuesday night and it was denied the same night.

"I truly feel bad for the Camden kids," Bilodeau added Wednesday morning. "I hope this doesn't take away from the fantastic season they've had.

"They handled themselves extremely well given the situation. They were great."

Update, Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.: The NJSIAA has released a statement acknowledging the incorrect call by the officials and apologizing to Manasquan. The statement also cites the NJSIAA rules that do not allow for the outcome of the game to be overturned.

“NJSIAA understands Manasquan’s frustration regarding the outcome of last night’s game.  We never want a contest to end with controversy or confusion. 

“Here, all of the events happened within the final second of the game. One of the three officials counted the basket as beating the buzzer. The three officials then met at half court to confer. A second official saw the ball in the shooter’s hands when the buzzer sounded. The officials then waived off the basket. Later, after being shown video clips, the second official agreed the basket should have counted. 

“That said, the rules are clear -- once game officials leave the "visual confines of the playing court," the game is concluded, and the score is official. So, while the officiating crews’ reports indicate that a post-game review of footage of the play in question convinced them that the basket should have counted, the results could not then and cannot now be changed.

“Also, NJSIAA Program Regulations, Section 14 – which governs the use of video – states, ‘No video or audio recording may be used to review or challenge the decision of a sports official.’  In addition, NJSIAA Bylaws, Article VII, Section 1 prohibit protests ‘based upon an official’s judgment or misinterpretation (misapplication) of the playing rules.’ The ruling on the court is, exclusively and by rule, what determines the game winner.  

"Unlike in college or the pros, there is no instant replay review in high school basketball in New Jersey. These are the rules of the game that all schools agree to follow, and which have been upheld on appeal. We apologize to the Manasquan team for the error.”

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