Nat Newell, Indianapolis Star
The girls high school score spread quickly across social media Tuesday night ... with the outrage right behind it: Bloomington (Ind.) South 107, Arlington 2.
First-year Arlington coach Ebony Jackson said she respected the Bloomington South program but was disappointed with the way it handled the game hosted by the Lady Knights.
"No it's not OK but (Bloomington South coach Larry Winters) will have to live with that," she said. "If that's how they want to carry themselves, that's fine. I'm focused on me and mine and we'll just keep going."
Among the comments on Twitter were:
- "(Bloomington South) coaching staff should be ashamed of themselves. Players, too."
- "This is disgraceful & a blow 2the integrity of (Indiana high school basketball)."
- "This should never happen."
Winters said he understands the public reaction but that no effort was made to embarrass Arlington or run up the score. He only had nine Panthers players for the game and rotated four new players in every four minutes.
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"I didn't tell my girls to stop shooting because that would have been more embarrassing (to Arlington)," he said, noting Arlington was playing an aggressive 2-3 zone. "We were not trying to embarrass them or run up the score."
The Indiana High School Athletic Association could not be immediately reached for comment but spokesman Chris Kaufman told WRTV (Channel 6): "(The score) is probably not what we would like to see."
Bloomington South was 7-1 prior to the game. Arlington, which has lost 23 consecutive games, was 0-5 and averaging 17 points per game. It has also lost 77-16 and 68-14 this season. Arlington hit a free throw in second and third quarters for its points.
Bloomington South played Arlington as recently as 2004-05 and won a 10-point game so Winters didn't have a problem scheduling the game with the Golden Knights when both had an opening. However, Arlington's enrollment has dropped significantly since 2004-05 and it was taken over by a private company prior to this season, causing many students to transfer to remain in Indianapolis Public Schools.
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Jackson said her team has almost no basketball experience. The teams signed a two-year contract but both coaches indicated the second game is unlikely to be played.
"It's not a situation that's any good for either team," said Winters, who praised the Arlington players for continuing to play hard despite the score. "Neither team benefits."
Winters didn't have his junior varsity players available since they had played in a tournament over the weekend and he was preparing for a game against rival Bloomington North on Saturday.
Winters is in favor of a "mercy rule" -- the game is called to an early end when one team has a presumably insurmountable lead -- but Jackson said she was not.
"It's basketball," said Jackson, who said she didn't confront Winters after the game because she didn't think it would be respectful and was only concerned about her team. "You see where you are and go out there and play. I'm not mad. (Winters) is running a great program. We'll go back to the drawing board and I'll nurture my players.
"It's been a trying season, a tough season (but) we'll continue to get better and better. We're about growth and improvement. That's where the rewards come. You've got to start somewhere and I'm blessed."