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Bloomington South’s rout in girls game raises concern

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IHSAA assistant commissioner Chris Kaufman expressed disappointment over the 107-2 final score of Tuesday night’s Bloomington South girls basketball victory at Arlington, saying the large point differential was not something the organization wants to see.

“We’re about education-based athletics,” Kaufman said. “Sportsmanship is a key fundamental that we strive to educate our member schools on all the time. It’s something that we take very seriously.

“Having said that, there will be games where the point differentials will be greater than normal and the matchups will be disproportionate.”

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Bloomington South Principal Mark Fletcher said, “We understand the media perception of last night’s game. The girls on both teams played hard and continued to compete the entire game. To do anything less by either team would have been demeaning.

“Arlington came out and worked on their player development, as did we. The long-standing reputation of our program and coach is one that would validate this information. We regret any unintended consequences that may have resulted from this competition.”

The IHSAA does not have a mercy rule in place, though Kaufman said he would not be surprised if a proposal were introduced in light of last night’s game.

Member school principals and athletics directors are able to make proposals to the IHSAA board of directors.

“It’s possible we could just institute one ourselves,” Kaufman said. “I think it’s too early, but it’s come up, and it’s something I’m sure that we’ll discuss.”

Poor academic performance led state officials to give control of the troubled Indianapolis school to EdPower, a private firm contracted to spur the turnaround.

Arlington, once one of the larger schools in the city, now has an enrollment of 525 students. The company took over in July.

EdPower athletics director Bob Wonnell said a mercy rule like the running clocks used in high school football could have been beneficial last night.

“It may not have made much of a difference, but a running clock may be something to look into,” Wonnell said.

“But we’re not focusing on that. We had the opportunity to play against (one of the top) teams in the state, a team that’s well-respected around the state. It’s an example of where you’ve got to get to. We’re not going to take this as a negative. We’ll turn it into a positive and move forward.”

Arlington entered the night averaging only 17 points per game, and South quickly piled on with a 65-1 lead at halftime.

The Panthers’ previous known high score was 93 points against Ben Davis in 2001. The only other 100-point girls’ basketball margin of victory on record this century is Indianapolis Chatard’s 109-8 win against Indianapolis Washington in 2006.

Panthers coach Larry Winters told the Herald-Times in Bloomington after the game that he wanted to see his team play with focus after taking its first loss of the season Dec. 6.

“We saw they were averaging 17 points a game, so knowing we were going to win, our challenge was to play with intensity for 32 minutes, and for the most part, we did that,” Winters said.

“A lot of times in that situation, you don’t show up and play the way you need to.”

Kaufman said it’s the IHSAA’s hope that when the talent disparity is as great as it was between Bloomington South and Arlington that the teams would choose not to play.

Wonnell said he had no intentions of canceling the game and did not contact Bloomington South officials seeking their opinions.

“We’re not offended,” Wonnell said. “Whatever happened, happened. They played an aggressive style of basketball, and their coach and players executed their game plans to the way they saw fit.

“We look at it from an Arlington perspective. It was a rough night for our girls with some of the publicity they’re dealing with today. But we’re confident in our coaching, we’re confident in our girls that we’ll continue getting better. At the end of the day, we’ll try to make lemonade out of lemons.”

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