My entire childhood was spent watching, waiting for teams to score as many points as possible.
Watching a Monroe football team put up 50 every week in the 90s made 10-year-old me beam from ear to ear. Travis Tuttle’s scoring binges at Argyle, the NBA having game-after-game where the final score was 120-115 — you name it, the high scores had a lot to do with me loving sports.
Then in video games — whether it was trying to get 1,000 yards rushing with Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl, or putting up 275 points in Madden, or dropping as many 3s with Reggie Miller as I could in NBA Jam — the more points I could put up, the better.
When I played sports, especially as a younger lad, we had practically unachievable goals. Our traveling basketball team for my grade was good — really good. We routinely beat teams by 40 or 50 points in many tournaments. Looking back on it, when you take 15-20 of the best 13-year-olds from Monroe against about 10 total kids from Orfordville, a blow-out wasn’t all too surprising.
In fifth grade I watched a kid from Beloit dunk on our team. In eighth grade we were the only team in a tournament that didn’t allow the Chicago All-Star roster to go up by 35 by the end of the first quarter — the requirement to shut off the scoreboard (it happened in the second quarter). Getting to 100 points in a single basketball game was our dream, but I would settle every day just to “see something cool.” (Fun fact, in college I hat-tipped an opponent for hitting a home run off of me that reached Earth’s orbit. My coach did not appreciate the gesture and called it “soft.”)
But something has happened in sports, much more noticeably at the varsity level.
Black Hawk demolished North Crawford in the opening game of this year’s tournament and scored 100 points, but social media was giving the Warriors backlash. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
“Put in your subs!” cried one person. “Show some class!” chirped another.
If there is any one thing I know about Mike Flanagan’s basketball program (other than that they are really, really, ridiculously good), it’s that it is nothing but class and sportsmanship.
Outside of the game they raise money for families who lost loved ones to cancer, they are in FFA and volunteer around the community.
On the court they never chirp at opponents, taunt after a big play or anything to cause a stir.
Yes, the Warriors press the living daylights out of opponents. Their half-court defense can give opponents anxiety just watching film, and they have a boatload of offensive weapons and can hit shots from anywhere on the court. The speed at which the program plays the game is unlike any other around, which makes them not just talented, but dynamic. I always was confused as a kid, if a full-court press works so well, why not just do it all game instead of just at the end when your team is behind? Flanagan’s team does that and it has changed the game at more than just the D5 level.
Flanagan’s players have accepted all the challenges he gives them. But they can’t help that they are also good. Scoring 64 points in the first half? They called off the dogs, but expecting them not to shoot at the basket — especially when wide open — for 18 minutes for fear of making an opponent feel bad is weak in my book. Also, this is the playoffs. Anything goes at this point, as far as I am concerned. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to pay money to go to a game to watch 100 passes and zero shots for 18 minutes just because the lead is “secure.” Play the game of 2019 and not 1919.
To me, once you hit the varsity level you are preparing for real life. Points matter. Blowouts happen. Games can get ruthless. But at some point, the other team has to stop them. And if you can’t, the final whistle will.
In Black Hawk’s blowout over Kickapoo — ranked ninth in the state — in the regional final, I heard Kickapoo parents discussing proposing a rule to limit press defense to the final five minutes of a half. Talk about hogwash just because you are outmatched.
In boys basketball, Hustisford absolutely decimated Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah 111-29 in Round 1. Is that unsatisfactory? Social media was silent. Is it because this was a boys game and somewhere in our subconscious we are empathetic to one gender more than another? I’m 100 percent positive that has something to do with it.
When Black Hawk’s football team was rolling teams by 50-plus each week and they had to pull their starters after the first quarter because it was 49-0, is that sufficient? Don’t you think a team with aspirations of winning a state title might want their starters to play more than 15 snaps in a contest just to get game reps in? And not that individual stats matter (but they do), can you imagine how many more rushing yards Colby Argall might have gotten if Coach Milz’s staff wasn’t so darn courteous?
Would Sydney Hilliard of Monroe be across the 2,000 mark for her career if the coaching staff didn’t pull her and the starters early in blowouts?
I understand not wanting to risk injury, especially to a future DI college player, and I am fully in agreement to bring in the reserves for quality minutes off the bench. Just don’t stall the offenses. Don’t succumb to halting the game in case the losing side has their feeling hurt.
Would Bailey Butler, a sophomore Warrior, have over 1,000 career points by now (she’s less than 200 away) if her squad didn’t call off the dogs or have a running clock in nearly all 50 of her career games to this point?
I know Flan won’t agree with me, because he is a humble guy, a great leader and in my eyes the very definition of “sportsmanship,” but I really, really, and I mean in the deepest depths of my soul, want to see this Warriors team score 100 points in the rest of their games this season just to show the rest of the state how stinking good these girls are.
They are not just the best team in D5. This team is probably one of the five best in the state at any level — and I will stand my ground on that hot take.
Yes, the team “W” is the most important thing, and getting humiliated by 70 doesn’t feel good at all. But is there no solace anymore that the reason you lost by 70 — no matter how hard you played — was because the team in the different colored jerseys was just that unmistakably talented and special? Can’t 100 points be special again?
— Adam Krebs is a reporter for the Times and scored zero varsity basketball points in his career. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.