It’s been a while since we’ve had a good, old-fashioned high-school controversy on the blog, but our trusted veteran Craig Smith provided us with a interesting subject with his story today.
Smitty detailed the response to Kennedy’s 112-16 victory against Evergreen, including JFK coach Tom Mummert’s apology and the reprimand from the Seamount League.
To sum up the circumstances:
-Mummert left his starters in longer than he usually win in a blowout to keep them sharp for tonight’s significant game against Mount Rainier.
-Mummert said JFK did not full-court press, but he said he was reluctant to ask his team to switch gears. “It’s hard to justify the score, but at the same time it’s hard to tell the girls not to do something that I’ve been preaching to them the whole season.”
-Mummert, whose team scored 34 points in the fourth-quarter, said the Evergreen coach declined an offer to play the second half witha running clock.
We can hopefully agree that, even if the Lancers were looking to stay sharp, 34 points is an awful lot to score in the fourth quarter. Yet the prescription for handling this situation, provided by the Seamount, appears to have little to do with sportsmanship and mostly to do with creating an ostensible score that everyone can live with more easily.
According to the story, the Seamount asks teams to:
-Go to a 2-3 zone defense with each player having at least one foot “in the paint and let the other team get a shot off.”
-Run the offense repeatedly and don’t take a shot until fewer than 5 seconds remain on the shot clock.
Under these guidelines, the fourth quarter isn’t even a game anymore. The game, itself, becomes more of an embarrassment for the losing team, with the other team gifting outside shots and standing with the ball.
Let’s try this in a different context. Suppose that a wrestling team has won each match in a meet going into the final match, and to make the score reasonable, the coach asks the last wrestler to roll over and take a pin.
Or that if, in golf, one team has an enormous lead. So the coach asks the last golfer on the course to take a 10 on the 18th to even things up a bit.
Or if, in swimming, a coach asks the last swimmer to doggie-paddle that final race. You’re getting the point. How would any of these scenarios make the other team feel any better?
Why do these three solutions sound so unreasonable, yet asking kids in basketball, football, baseball, softball or most team sports to give up at the end of their games makes sense?
The best way to end a blowout is to end the game as soon as possible — running clock, mercy rule, something. I covered a football game in Florida once where after one clearly superior team took a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, so they played one-minute quarters after that. But you can’t fault a coach who wants to provide his kids the opportunity to play out any game.
I’d love to say these subjects become easier to handle as kids grow up, but the New England Patriots have demonstrated that even pros face the same questions. Questions that surely will never be resolved, especially in high schools.
So what’s your solution? How should coaches handle the end of these games?
1. Eryn Jones, Meadowdale, girls basketball. Jones scored 26 points in a 63-47 win against Shorewood/
2. Olivia Goree, Issaquah, gymnastics. Goree, a freshman, had a 35.8 all-around score, the best of Thursday night, in Issaquah’s win against Mount Si.
3. Connor Donaldson, Edmonds-Woodway, boys basketball. Donaldson, in his first game back from a knee injury, led the 10-2 Warriors in a 69-55 victory.
Tonight’s top games
1. Auburn Riverside at Auburn, girls basketball, 7:30 p.m. Auburn Riverside has yet to lose a game in state, but it must go on the road against another top-10 team to keep it that way.
2. Kennedy at Mount Rainier, boys basketball, 8 p.m. Two teams whose only loss came in the Comcast Christmas Classic, but after tonight, one will leave with its first Seamount loss. And the girls game before it should be a big deal, too.
3. O’Dea at Bainbridge, boys basketball, 6:15 p.m. O’Dea has been rolling after a 1-2 loss, while Bainbridge would surely like to get back among the best in the Metro League with a win on its home court.