Inevitably, the nepotism card was going to be played, albeit in jest.
With 5 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter of the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic boys basketball game in Sterling, the Gazette squad's Zach Rehmert earned an opportunity for a three-point play. He drained a short jumper, and the Telegraph's John Payan was whistled for a foul.
Blowing the whistle on the play: veteran official Larry Rehmert, Zach's father.
"That was the worst call I've ever seen," Gazette coach Tony Dunlap said to Larry, a wide smile on his face as he uttered that comment.
Zach also smiled when asked about the play, though he missed the free throw to convert the old-fashioned three-point play.
"He gave me a little continuation call there," Zach said. "It was a little fatherly love."
For Larry, it was just another call.
"I didn't look for him," Larry said, "but if it was there, he was going to get it just like the other kids."
Larry Rehmert has been an official for 21 years. Early in his career, when he'd go out on the road for a game, he'd often bring Zach along.
"He had his own ref shirt, and he'd sit at the scorer's bench while I reffed," Larry said. "He's been around the game since he was 2."
Thursday night, however, marked the first time the father had worked one of his son's games. Zach thought that perhaps his dad had worked a Gus Macker game or two back in the day, but Larry said no, it was indeed their first time.
It got off to an interesting start. During player introductions, it's customary for the athletes to give the officials a fist bump. Larry ignored his son, and got a smack in the chest as a result.
"He didn't want to give me anything at first," Zach said. "I was like, 'C'mon dad.' I gave it to him pretty good. I think he learned his lesson."
Outside of the missed three-point opportunity, there was very little play between the two. With 4:27 left in the third quarter, Larry called a foul on Zach, the only time that happened in the game. There was also a play in which Zach thought he had saved a ball from going out of bounds, but Larry ruled it hit the baseline.
Zach Rehmert finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal to help the Gazette squad to a 95-74 victory over the Telegraph. In the fall, Zach will attend Aurora University and play basketball.
Playing his last high school game in Musgrove Fieldhouse, in front of his family, was a proper send-off.
"It was the way to go out," Zach said. "Dad reffing, mom and my sister were here, everybody was supporting, so it was a good way to go out, for sure."
Before Larry accepted the All-Star officiating job, he checked with his son, to make sure it would be OK. It was, and the first father/son, referee/player combo was born.
"I was sitting in the stands for most of his games," Larry said. "It goes by in such a hurry, and I'm glad I got to enjoy it. It was great to be a part of it."