What happens when one high school girls’ basketball team comes to compete, and the other team doesn’t? If you are the head coach of the first team, and your squad wins in a wipeout, you are scapegoated and suspended for a game. We’ve seen this sort of ridiculous thing before when a sports team is severely punished for achievement, and it’s never a pretty outcome.
Sacred Heart Academy, undefeated and ranked third in Connecticut, took a first-quarter lead of 29-0, and it was 56-0 at halftime. By the end of the end of the third period, it was 80-0, and it ended 92-4. Coach Jason Kirck will sit out the next game because his last opponent, Lyman Hall High School, sucks at hoops.
Based on what Sacred Heart Academy’s president said, one would assume Coach Kirck had committed a serious crime. Sr. Sheila O’Neill, the school's president, blamed her own school for exhibiting poor sportsmanship.:
“Sacred Heart Academy values the lessons taught and cultivated through athletic participation, including ethical and responsible behavior, leadership and strength of character and respect for one’s opponents. Last night’s Girls’ Basketball game vs Lyman Hall High School does not align with our values or philosophies. Sacred Heart Academy Administration and Athletics are deeply remorseful for the manner through with the outcome of the game was achieved. We are in communication with Lyman Hall High School, the Southern Connecticut Conference and CIAC, and are addressing these concerns internally to ensure that our athletic programs continue to encourage personal, physical and intellectual growth.”
In other words, Sacred Heart, the next time you play Lyman Hall, leave your “A” Game at home.
After taking a berating from all sides, Coach Kirck said he was "deeply remorseful for the manner through with [sic] the outcome of the game was achieved."
Lyman Hall Coach Tom Lipka was enraged and said his foes “showed no mercy throughout" at all during the game. He told CTInsider via email:
“Sacred Heart pressed for most of the first half then called it off and went into a tight man-to-man half court defense trying to get steals. They fastbreaked the entire game right to the end. They never went into a zone and continued to push the ball up the court and shoot threes wherever they could. They showed no mercy throughout.”
The Lyman Hall coach went on WFSB-TV and accused his rival of “unsportsmanlike” conduct and running up the score.
Pressing is Sacred Heart’s game, but if another team repeatedly can’t get back quickly enough to stop the fastbreak, that’s on them. Furthermore, how can a school employ a coach who can’t prepare a team any better than this? It sounds like Coach Lipka got a get-out-of-jail card for not being a good coach.
Sports teach character and painful lessons as well, and coaches who complain about lop-sided losses sometimes need to look in the mirror and blame themselves for their team's bad performances. Other coaches need to yank their starters sooner when a blowout becomes inevitable. Just blaming the winning side doesn’t seem right.