Friday, January 23, 2009

When it comes to points, how much is too much?

You might have already heard about the Texas high school girls basketball game last week that ended with a 100-0 score.

But now the winning school is looking for a way to forfeit the game, claiming that the lopsided margin is "is shameful and an embarrassment" — even though the losing team hasn't raised much objection to the outcome.

The idea of taking a step back to forfeit a fair win brings up all sorts of issues of sportsmanship in an era were being political correct sometimes goes amuk. We've seen lopsided games locally in the past, and a couple of times even this season (recall Campbell's 98-9 win over Delta C-7 back in December).

Spectators at last week's game in Texas say that the winning team kept up a full-court press after a 59-0 halftime lead, and it kept up its three-point shooting late in the game. If your team's up 59-0 at halftime, and you're closing in on 100 points in the second half, what's the right thing to do?

First, for the background on the Texas game — and the reaction that followed — here's the story today from the Associated Press:

DALLAS — A Texas high school girls basketball team on the winning end of a 100-0 game has a case of blowout remorse.

Now officials from The Covenant School say they are trying to do the right thing by seeking a forfeit and apologizing for the margin of victory.

"It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened," Kyle Queal, the head of the school, said in a statement, adding the forfeit was requested because "a victory without honor is a great loss."

The private Christian school defeated Dallas Academy last week. Covenant was up 59-0 at halftime.

A parent who attended the game told The Associated Press that Covenant continued to make 3-pointers -- even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points.

"I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the 3-point shots," said Renee Peloza, whose daughter plays for Dallas Academy. "At some point, they should have backed off."

Dallas Academy coach Jeremy Civello told The Dallas Morning News that the game turned into a "layup drill," with the opposing team's guards waiting to steal the ball and drive to the basket. Covenant scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and "finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left," he said.

Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with "learning differences," such as short attention spans or dyslexia.

There is no mercy rule in girls basketball that shortens the game or permits the clock to continue running when scores become lopsided. There is, however, "a golden rule" that should have applied in this contest, said Edd Burleson, the director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Both schools are members of this association, which oversees private school athletics in Texas.

"On a personal note, I told the coach of the losing team how much I admire their girls for continuing to compete against all odds," Burleson said. "They showed much more character than the coach that allowed that score to get out of hand. It's up to the coach to control the outcome."

In the statement on the Covenant Web site, Queal said the game "does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community."

Covenant coach Micah Grimes did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Queal said school officials met with Dallas Academy officials to apologize and praised "each member of the Dallas Academy Varsity Girls Basketball team for their strength, composure and fortitude in a game in which they clearly emerged the winner."

Civello said he appreciated the gesture and has accepted the apology "with no ill feelings."

At a shootaround Thursday, several Dallas Academy players said they were frustrated during the game but felt it was a learning opportunity. They also said they are excited about some of the attention they are receiving from the loss, including an invitation from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to see an NBA game from his suite.

"Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing," said Shelby Hyatt, a freshman on the team. "Keep trying, and it's going to be OK."

Peloza said the coach and other parents praised the Dallas Academy girls afterward for limiting Covenant to 12 points in the fourth quarter. She added that neither her daughter nor her teammates seemed to dwell on the loss.

"Somewhere during that game they got caught up in the moment," Peloza said of the Covenant players, fans and coaches. "Our girls just moved on. That's the happy part of the story."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Where are you going this week?

There are plenty of options for high school sports throughout the week, starting with a big lineup of boys games Tuesday. The five to see this week:

1. Sikeston at Farmington. The No. 2 and No. 3 boys teams in the SEMO Top 25 meet Tuesday in a test of Farmington's 10-game winning streak (the longest current streak for a boys team in Southeast Missouri). The Knights probably won't get a test this stout again until the postseason (although regular-season games against Notre Dame and Hillsboro, among others, await).

2. Portageveville at Dexter. Two of the region's best girls teams play Thursday in a rematch of Twin Rivers' Lady Royals Holiday Classic on Jan. 3; Dexter, which is the region's only unbeaten varsity team in girls or boys basketball, won that meeting 68-45.

3. Saxony Lutheran at Notre Dame. The growing rivalry between the two Cape Girardeau County private schools hasn't featured much excitement in the past thanks to lopsided Notre Dame wins, but this year could be different — Saxony is coming off a Chester (Ill.) Invitational title and already has wins over larger schools including Jackson and Ste. Genevieve.

4. Clarkton at Hayti. The teams scored a combined 161 points in Hayti's overtime win Dec. 5, and both teams are known for blistering offenses that put up a lot of points. Hayti returned to the SEMO Top 25 this week after six consecutive wins.

5. Crystal City at Herculaneum. So far the Jefferson County Conference is a dogfight between these two teams, along with DeSoto and Hillsboro — all four, along with Windsor, are 2-1 in the league, and today's rivalry game could go a long way toward settling the fight.

What's your top pick this week?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Updates on Bell City basketball, Cooter baseball and the SEMO Top 25

There was speculation this week from several people that Brian Brandtner would return from a paid administrative leave before the weekend, but it looks like that's not the case.

The word from Bell City principal Matt Asher today is that an investigation into Brandtner continues, and Asher didn't venture a guess as to when the investigation could end or if or when Brandtner could return.

Brandtner is in his fourth season coaching the school's boys basketball team, but he was suspended late last week. Both Brandtner and the school have declined to detail the nature of the investigation.

Parker Watkins, a senior on the Cooter High School baseball team, is in Tucson, Ariz., this weekend to try out for one of the preseason UnderArmour All American teams. Parker is among 350 preseason all-Americans chasing a spot on the roster; the UnderArmour teams compete around the country during the summer.

Parker plays first base and third base for the Wildcats.

• After seeing Scott County Central's dismantling of Charleston — a team that's become much more solid since its holiday tournament — is there still doubt that Scott Central is the No. 1 team in the SEMO Top 25? The Braves have been No. 1 since mid-December, but there was plenty of debate that Sikeston deserved the spot.

One game next week that could help fine-tune the top of the rankings is a Tuesday matchup between No. 2 Sikeston and No. 4 Farmington at Farmington. Scott Central, on the other hand, is expected to sweep its league tournament next week, then face a game at Notre Dame on Jan. 27.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Farmington, North County wrestlers rank first statewide

Two Southeast Missouri wrestlers are ranked No. 1 in their divisions in Missouri high school rankings released today.

The first statewide poll of the season by include Bradley Wisdom of Farmington first in the 125-pound division of Class 3, and Cody Compton of North County first at 160 in Class 2.

Among team standings, only two teams are among the state's top 10: Farmington is fifth in Class 3, and Ste. Genevieve is No. 7 in Class 2.

Individually in Class 2, four Ste. Genevieve wrestlers are ranked: Kevin LeClere is No. 4 in 125; Jordan Ritter is No. 7 in 130; John Vogt is No. 2 in 171; and Jake Gegg is No. 3 in 215. Tyler Friend of Park Hills Central is No. 7 in 285.

In Class 3, Farmington, DeSoto, Hillsboro, North County, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau Central all are represented in individual rankings.

Farmington featured several ranked wrestlers in addition to Wisdom: Todd Brackett is No. 8 in 112; Paden Sparks is No. 7 in 130; Josh Kelleher is No. 3 in 135; Brandon McDowell is No. 9 in 140; Kyle Sullivan is No. 7 in 160; Justin Heberlie is No. 8 in 189; and Les Thilking is No. 6 in 285.

For Poplar Bluff, Zach Surque is No. 9 in 112, Kelton Thompson is No. 6 in 215, and Dylan Janes is No. 7 in 285.

Cape Girardeau Central's Zach Wilson is No. 8 in 171, and Trey Grovenor is No. 4 in 285.

For DeSoto, Josh Newbury is No. 6 in 140, and Dakota Smith is No. 3 in 215. Hillsboro's Josh Sheppard is No. 5 in 215, and North County's Taylor Decker is No. 5 in 171.

In Class 4, five wrestlers from Jackson are ranked: Levi Rayburn is No. 8 in 103; Clay Rouse is No. 7 in 119; Michael Riney is No. 6 in 189; Justin Darnell is No. 4 in 215; and Blake Pieffer is No. 3 in 285.