Minneota basketball player apologizes for free-throw trick

There’s a lot to digest in the Marshall Independent’s story about three Minneota, Minn., basketball players who’ve been suspended, apparently for trying to put one over on referees who weren’t paying close enough attention to the game.

As the story is told, when a foul was called sending a Minneota player to the free-throw line in a game two weeks ago, senior Thomas Hennen shot the free throws, even though he wasn’t the player fouled.

The coaches didn’t notice — it happened twice — and apparently neither did the referees. Minneota, which is 19-1, won the game 87-to-83.

Minneota suspended Thomas Hennen for two games, and the two players who should’ve been shooting the free throws for one game.

Hennen, who scored 45 points in the game, issued a stand-up apology:

In our varsity boys’ basketball game against MACCRAY on Jan. 31 in Clara City, I took it upon myself to violate a Minnesota State High School League rule by shooting free throws on two separate occasions when it was a teammate that had been fouled and should have gone to the free-throw line.

As a result of my actions, I was suspended for two games while each of those two teammates received a one-game suspension. I whole-heartedly accept the penalty given to me by my administrators.

In the heat of the game, my competitiveness emerged and I failed to think about the repercussions of my actions at that time.

I would like to apologize to those two teammates, as well as to the rest of my team and coaches, the fans, the school, and the community for my actions.

I would also like to apologize to the MACCRAY players, coaches and fans; and also to the Minnesota State High School League.

I know moving forward that I have learned from my inexcusable actions, and that it will never happen again.”

Thomas Hennen
Minneota High School

The team was ranked first in Class 1A basketball all season (both the girls and boys basketball squads are top ranked), but now it’s been dropped from the rankings completely, according to the Independent.

It does not appear, that the game was forfeited; the Minnesota State High School League lists its only loss as a 57-to-55 loss to Yellow Medicine East High School during the suspensions on Friday night.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • It does not appear, that the game was forfeited

    It probably should be forfeited.

    /Just my take on this.

    • X.A. Smith

      I hear that. In this case, the margin of victory was greater than the number of errant free throws, but then again three players on the winning team cheated. I notice the coach was fooled, too. (Really?)

      • Depending on the score at the time, those made free throws could have changed the way their opponents played the rest of the game.

  • Ickster

    It’s refreshing to see an apology that doesn’t deserve the prefix ‘non-‘.

    • RBHolb

      It’s depressing that we live in an era where a sincere apology is something to celebrate.

      • We should keep in mind we’re talking about kids and kids are dumb and make mistakes. Giving them a pat for owning up to mistakes isn’t something new nor a sign of the times. It’s how you raise kids and reinforce the positive.

        • Angry Jonny

          Were the kids in Jordan being dumb when they held up Trump signs during the game with Roosevelt?

        • RBHolb

          That’s very true, and I am probably guilty of judging him by standards for adults.

          I hope he never loses his ability to make a real apology.

  • Jeff C.

    Nice apology!

    Here, from the “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology” is what makes a good apology:

    1. You actually have to use the words “I’m sorry”.
    2. Acknowledge that you messed up. (As in, “I take full responsibility for my words.”)
    3. Tell the person how you’ll fix the situation.
    4. Describe what happened, but without foisting the blame off on someone else.
    5. Promise to behave better next time.
    6. Make sure the person knows you know exactly how you hurt or inconvenienced them.
    7. Much like the first rule, it’s important to use some version of the phrase “I was wrong.”
    8. Ask for forgiveness.

    Bad apologies, on the other hand, tend to suffer from these four shortcomings:

    1. Justifying your words or behavior.
    2. Blaming the victim.
    3. Making excuses.
    4. Minimizing the consequences. (“It was just a joke!”)

    • Jeff

      Sigh, even though I’m sorry, I can never resist justifying my actions.

  • lusophone

    The refs need to take some responsibility for this too. How are they gonna call the foul on one player and let another take the shots? Even if they were twins, they have numbers on their jerseys.

    In soccer if a player gets 2 yellow cards, the player is ejected from the game. It’s up to the ref to keep track of who has received a yellow already, not the players.

    • Ickster

      Sure, but it’s not nearly as important to address a mistake (the ref) as it is to address a deliberate wrong (the players).

    • Barton

      The fact that the Minneota coaches aren’t being held responsible at all blows my mind a bit. How did they not know their own players enough to realize the mistake?

  • KTFoley

    If I recall, there are some members of high school golf teams in MN who have wisdom to share on the value of owning your missteps as soon as you realize you’ve taken them, rather than waiting until you’ve been caught.