A few tidbits from the road.
I don’t recall if I shared this story in a previous notebook, but late last month I had back-to-back games that were completely awful. In the first, one of our best girls teams, WCHS, won easily but in very ugly fashion. They should have won by about 70 but apparently decided to play down to the level of their competition that night. After the game, one of the assistant coaches, who used to be the boys coach at WCHS and who I’ve known for a few years, walked by me and said, “Whew! That set basketball back about 20 years!”
Two nights later I covered one of our boys teams, FCHS. They are struggling this year and were playing a school that is traditionally solid. Midway through the first quarter FCHS was down by about 15 and their players pretty much gave up. I’ve seen some bad games over the years, but this might have been the worst. It wasn’t just that FCHS was outclassed or didn’t have talent or something else like that which easily explained their performance. This night, the players quit caring once they got behind. It was not fun to watch as player after player took quick, long threes as soon as they were open. The post-game interview with the coach was the most awkward thing I’ve been through in four years at the paper. He’s under some pressure and you could sense he knew his grasp on his job was slipping away.
That week was so bad, after the boys game my editor promised to give me some good games for awhile.
So that’s the set-up for last night. I was covering the ICHS girls, who were trying to close out their second-straight undefeated conference season. They’re a 2A school that has played a tough schedule and only lost four times this year. Their opponent was a 1A school that somehow managed to win six games so far this season. I was expecting a blowout, but little did I know…
ICHS won the tip and scored in about five seconds. Then they stole the ball and scored again.
This continued for the first nine-plus minutes of the game, until they were ahead 29-0. I’ve seen some one-sided runs, but this was ridiculous. And it wasn’t just because ICHS has talent and plays beautiful, team basketball. Their opponents, for some reason, kept dribbling the ball into the middle of the lane, where the ICHS defense would collapse and steal the ball easily. 80% of ICHS’ made baskets during the run came within five feet of the hoop. By the time they hit a shot, the opponents had already turned the ball over 13 times. They didn’t give up, but they were playing mind-numbingly dumb basketball.
The final margin was 64 points, which I believe is the biggest I’ve seen. At least my team won, which made the post-game stuff easier.
One last note. A few weeks ago I wrote about the buzzer-beater game I covered, which featured one of the top scoring players in the state. She got three fouls fairly early in the game and had to sit the final 5:00 before halftime. She was limited in the second half as well, and eventually fouled out in the final minute. Her team won, but she only scored 15, about half her average.
I will give her this: one of the fouls was pretty weak. But the rest were all legit. Her coach didn’t think so, though.
Once she sat down, he spent the rest of the game working any ref that got close to him about her foul situation.
“I have the number two scorer in the state sitting next to me on the bench because you’ve given her three fouls.”
“She’s an All-State player and she has three fouls. You think this is the first time she’s played the game?”
“She hasn’t had three fouls in a game all year but she’s sitting her next to me because you put her there.”
Unfortunately, other than some loud warnings to knock it off, I couldn’t hear what the refs were saying back to him when they came over to chat. I trust they were reminding him that a foul is a foul, no matter who commits it. And, if they were being shitty, they might have even pointed out how his team had been called for fewer total fouls than FCHS.
It was just another sign that even if I was capable, I would never want to be an official.1 I would let a jackass coach who complained about his player not getting her points because she’s on the bench pop off no more than twice before I got angry and either T’ed him up, or got vindictive and started calling every touch foul.
Tonight I’m covering the boys’ half of a girl-boy double header featuring that same coach. The girls game is between two ranked teams, so I’m going to get there early to see part of it. I’m looking forward to hearing him spend more time yelling at the refs than coaching again.
- ;I officiated 6-7 year old basketball one year in high school. I blew one call that still haunts me. I’m pretty sure I would suck as a ref. ↩