Walking out of Medora’s gymnasium Monday evening, my face resembled a tomato and steam shot out of my ears.
It takes a lot to fire me up, but I was furious with the game I had just covered.
Not the final score, which was an 82-16 blowout by Orleans over the Hornets’ girls basketball team, but the manner of which events transpired.
Here’s the situation.
Going into the contest, the Bulldogs had a 12-6 record, and the Hornets stood at 0-11.
The Hornets haven’t had enough players to fill out a junior varsity roster for a few years running, so it was a varsity-only contest starting at 6 p.m.
Medora trailed 24-3 after one quarter and 38-5 at the half.
By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs had bolstered the lead to 56-8.
With the outcome decided, the clock just needed to run out and everyone would go home.
I didn’t have any issues with the game at that point. The Bulldogs had a lot more talent and deserved to win and had put the game away through 24 minutes.
The fourth quarter is where my issues arise.
First, to make it clear, I don’t have a qualm with the players with this entire situation. My issue has to do with the adults involved in the matter and how they played this one out.
In the final eight minutes, already up by 44 points, the Bulldogs added 26 points to their total. While they didn’t play the entire fourth quarter — and all 11 players got playing time — the starters did see the floor in the final period.
The lead plumed to 66-13 with 2:10 remaining after a Hornets basket.
Orleans then went on a 16-0 run with under two minutes left, including a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, before the Hornets hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to conclude the contest.
To me, on the bench, this wasn’t just a blowout. The visitors wanted to embarrass the Hornets.
I restrained myself from going up to the Orleans coach, Jared Gilbert, at the time in fear that I would say something I didn’t mean without fully analyzing the situation.
After every game, I, at the very minimum, interview the coach of the school from Jackson County that we’re covering.
While it was already printed in Tuesday’s issue, I am going to republish what Hornets coach Brad McCammon said after the game because I think it says a lot about the type of team they have.
“High school sports, to me, is about so much more than what’s on that scoreboard. To me, it’s about trying to teach them to be good, respectful young ladies,” he said. “I think Garry (Elkins, assistant coach) and I are accomplishing that. I just hate it for the girls. If you want to beat me by 70, that’s fine, but I hate to see the girls suffer that. I’ve been around long enough and will get over it.
“I love these kids. They will come back tomorrow and practice hard. There are some games left we have a chance at winning. We’ll play every game as hard as we can. In this, there’s just a not a lot we can learn. I thought we fought right until the end. They hustled and gave it their all. I will take these kids to battle any day.”
McCammon could have gone after Gilbert, but he elected to take the higher road and just disagree with the tactics.
“I think, as a coach, it’s hard. I’ve been on both sides of this before,” McCammon said Monday. “(With a large lead) I always made my kids play zone (defense) and keep one foot in the lane. We’d have six to eight passes before a shot and no fast breaks. That’s not the way (Gilbert) played it, and that’s fine. Personally, I thought it was excessive. All you take the chance on doing is demoralizing a team or having someone get hurt, and we almost had that happen.”
McCammon has filled almost every possible role at Medora, including coach, teacher, athletic director and principal, over the past 34 years.
He first started teaching in Medora in 1984 and has given back more to his community more than some will do in an entire lifetime.
I was red-hot by the entire situation on my drive back from the school, trying to think of the right words to put on the page for Tuesday’s game story.
When I logged on Twitter, before I typed up my story at the office, I looked around to see what people were saying about the game.
I didn’t see much, but I did see the Bulldogs’ athletic department put out a tweet that read, “Congratulations to the Varsity girls in setting a new school record for ‘Most Points Scored in a Game’ tonight! #ladydawghustle.”
There’s one possible explanation why the Bulldogs’ bench erupted when they were already up by 63 points.
I spoke with Gilbert over the phone Tuesday night about the matter.
“Honestly, we just went into the game looking at it as trying to get better,” he said. “Over half the game, we played our bench, and there at the end, there were girls that just haven’t played much varsity. I thought we would just keep playing and both teams would get more out of it than just holding the ball. I had no idea even what the (scoring record) was. It wasn’t something we were shooting for.
“I have a lot of respect for Brad and would never do anything to embarrass them. I thought their kids and our kids played hard. Regardless of the score, we want to play hard and not do anything to show anyone up. That’s the last thing I would ever do as a coach. We were just playing. I really didn’t think of it as a negative thing at the time or anything like that.”
I understand there are games on the schedule that get out of hand, but I think it was still a disservice to the kids.
To me, this is when you teach kids about humility.
I asked Gilbert if he felt that the run at the end was running the score up.
“At no time during the game did I feel like we were trying to run up the score,” Gilbert said. “Maybe because our bench was in. I honestly wasn’t even aware we were on a big run like that at all. I thought our kids were just playing hard. I didn’t really think it was anything like trying to run it up or embarrass them. I think we have good kids and try to teach them to play the right way and respect our opponents. It’s just one of those games where we hit a lot more shots than we normally do. For whatever reason, that night, we were making shots we don’t usually make.”
I know some coaches want their kids to play hard until the final whistle, no matter the score, but this was excessive.
I’m not a basketball coach, but I have covered hundreds of games in my career, and this felt wrong.
The coaches could have told the team to run the clock by using long possessions and stopped running the floor on fast breaks, like McCammon stated.
While Gilbert may not have intended any disrespect, I don’t think many others felt the same way.
“I’ve always had respect for Brad, and I hate that he felt that way (after the game),” Gilbert said. “I would never intend for that. I was kind of surprised by that. I know they’ve gotten beaten that bad from some other teams this year, but by no means would I ever do that (running up the score). Hopefully, he understands that we weren’t trying to do that. “
I know this isn’t the only instance in the state where teams won by wide margins down the stretch, but this was the first time I’ve seen it in person and felt it went too far.
The worst score I have come across this season was last week when the Scottsburg girls walloped Clarksville 100-16.
While Medora’s players were defeated in the scorebook, I didn’t notice any of them sulking on the way out.
In fact, as the game ended and that last buzzer-beater from Hannah Morris banked in, the team cheered for her. Morris had a huge smile across her face saying “take that.”
I don’t care what the team’s record is. I would go to battle with a coaching staff like McCammon’s. They know what’s important in this grand scheme of life and don’t ask for any recognition in the process.
Actions speak louder than words.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected] indiana.com.