HUNTINGTON — Thirteen new whistle blowers have come forth.

These guys have nothing to do with politics, impeachment and the like. The River Cities Basketball Officials Association has added 13 new officials for the 2019-20 season.

Kenny Beter, Norman Branch, Andrew Brooks, Bryan Courts, Robby Fetty, DuRon Jackson, Ben Johnson, Garrett Johnson, Zachery Larsen, Tanner Perdue, Isaac Perry, Nick Thornburg and Michael Wilmer completed training on Nov. 13. Each finished a 39-hour course of instruction on rules and mechanics. The new officials worked scrimmages to gain experience.

RCBOA instructor Lou Peake, a 40-year veteran of officiating, said he was thrilled with the number and quality of rookies.

“This is the largest class we’ve had in years,” Peake said. “These individuals are coming in at a time when our ranks were low and we need officials.”

A nationwide shortage of officials includes the Tri-State. The new baker’s dozen will help ease the loss of retiring officials and those who leave the occupation for various other reasons.

Peake praised fellow instructor Kevin Anderson, a longtime official.

“Kevin is really the teacher,” Peake said. “Kevin is the most-knowledgeable rules guy in the state that I know to lead in the classroom and on-court instruction to make these individuals successful basketball officials.”

Each new official may register to work games in Ohio or West Virginia, or both, as the association is certified in both states.

Association president Aaron Arnold said the need for new officials continues, despite the addition of the 13.

“Our association’s ranks have recently been depleted with the retirement of five veteran officials and the loss of others to work, school and family commitments.”

A rise in fan verbal abuse and violence toward officials has made recruiting more difficult for the likes of the RCBOA.

“Individuals simply do not want to get involved in officiating and the No. 1 reason is fan misconduct and behavior, which accounts for the loss annually of so many officials in all sports at our level,” Arnold said. “Unsporting behavior continues to be the main reason that people get out of officiating.”

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