When miscommunication left Minnesota Morris and Macalester without referees for a men's basketball game Monday night, Minnesota Morris athletic director Matt Johnson knew who to call.
He's coordinator for the Morris Officials Association, a group of about 20 people who referee high school sports in the area.
"There were some high-stress moments," Johnson said. "Shortly after 6, we still didn't have officials on site.
"When they weren't here by 10 after 6, we snapped into gotta-go mode."
Johnson's group of referees numbers about 20, and he knew only four of them didn't have assignments Monday, "and one of them was me," he said.
He turned up two who could work the game, Eric Hamm and Eric Asche. He found a third referee, Nate Meissner, who is certified to do college games.
Johnson said the coaches, Abe Woldeslassie of Macalester and Paul Grove of Morris, had agreed Johnson could be the third whistle if necessary. "We were just going to play," Johnson said.
The game begin a little late, and that was the bulk of the fallout, Johnson said.
"If you'd seen the game, the only thing you would have noticed is the college officials wear a different shirt and my guys wear their MSHSL shirts," he said. "In terms of the game and their abilities, they did just an amazing job."
Johnson said he felt lucky he had referees from the Morris Officials Association available. A shortage of game officials has complicated high school sports scheduling in Minnesota.
"I think getting as much information out about the lack of refereeing resources is important," Johnson said. "A school just called me with a need and I can't fill it because I don't have enough guys. There are just not enough high school officials for the games."
Without change, the shortage will get worse, he indicated.
"Specifically for my group but as a whole, officials are an aging class," he said. "There are far more older men and women in the group than young ones. Some of my guys could be done tomorrow if they wanted to, but they keep going because they know we need them."
They were needed Monday, certainly, but for a college game. Macalester won 61-59, and Johnson was pleased the game was played at all.
"We made the game happen, and I'm so thankful for Mac's head coach and my head coach agreeing to do this," he said.
"If I'm just some regular athletic director, a guy with no ties like I have, I don't know how we handle last night."