espnW: high school girls basketball
It’s been a rough few years for the Climax-Fisher High School (Minnesota) girls’ basketball team. And by rough, I mean the Knights hadn’t won since 2011. So that’s not great.
Entering Tuesday’s game against Bagley, they were riding an 84-game losing streak, a mark that should even make Philadelphia 76ers fans feel better. And for most of the game it wasn’t looking like the streak would be broken anytime soon because four of the eight players dressed fouled out before the end of regulation. Somehow, Climax-Fisher was able to force overtime despite just having FOUR PLAYERS.
And it gets even crazier.
According to Inforum.com, another player fouled out two minutes into extra time. But somehow, despite not making a single field goal and relying solely on foul shots, the remaining trio forced another overtime.
In the second overtime, Climax-Fisher still didn’t make a field goal but the three girls continued their strategy of drawing fouls and scoring from the line. The Knights went 12-for-17 from the charity stripe during the two overtimes, which was good enough to WIN THE GAME 62-58 and end the streak. Please insert your favorite celebratory GIF, Vine or puppy video here or watch the one provided below.
It was the first win for coach Jonathon Vonesh -- who had previously led the team to an 0-48 record during his tenure -- and all the players on the team. Needless to say, the girls were pretty excited. Vonesh told Inforum it was “like we won a championship.”
If that’s not a lesson in perseverance, I’m not sure what is.
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If the stakes were Olympic gold or a WNBA championship, by all means, score as many baskets as you can. No one will fault you for a single pick-and-roll.
But beating an inferior opponent 107-2, as the Bloomington (Ind.) South High School girls' basketball team did to Arlington High School on Tuesday night, doesn't seem very sporting.
High school sports are different, and for good reason. For the vast majority of kids who play, it is as far as their athletic career will ever go, so it's less about wins and losses and more about learning sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork.
The lopsided score of this high school game isn't offensive because they are girls. The winning-is-everything mentality is just as unnecessary in a boys' game under similar circumstances.
And in many cases it isn't about the players, it's about the coaches. Apparently Bloomington coach Larry Winters mistook this prep game for the Battle of Bunker Hill. He decided to go full-throttle on a team that hasn't won in 23 games. Maybe he thought a big win would mean a lucrative shot at coaching the Lakers if this whole Mike D'Antoni thing doesn't work out.
Perhaps Winters thought margin of victory counted in division standings, or maybe he was just trying to make his players' parents proud. At any rate, a girls' basketball game is not the place to make your stand.
A high school game isn't about the coaches and their misplaced egos. It is about the girls and boys and what they take away from the experience to build on later in their lives.
Ultimately, we hope the reaction to Winters' hyper-competitiveness will be more of a lesson than his directive to his players to keep shooting. Maybe his players learned that while winning is fine, embarrassing an opponent in the process is not.
And, hopefully, that lesson will take some of the bitter taste out of the loss for Arlington.