Sports host Joe Staysniak: Winning coach in 107-2 high school basketball game classless

IHSAA will consider implementing mercy rule

INDIANAPOLIS - The athletic department at Bloomington South High School is defending a controversial 107-2 win by its girls basketball team.

The win came Tuesday night over Arlington High School in Indianapolis, whose only points of the game came from free throws.

The 107-2 score sparked ire from sports fans on talk radio Wednesday, with many questioning why the adults in charge would allow such a lopsided contest to continue.

Joe Staysniak, sports talk host on 1070 The Fan and a former NFL player, laying much of the blame at the feet of Bloomington South coach Larry Winters, who defended his team's performance late Tuesday by saying he played all nine members of his team.

"I don't know how as a coach you can live with yourself allowing something like that to happen," Staysniak said. "Why not go down and pass the ball 10 times. Let's work on the other aspects of our game."

In a statement Wednesday night, the Bloomington South athletic department defended the win.

"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," the statement read. "Arlington came out and worked on their player development, as did we. The longstanding reputation of our program and coach is one that would validate this information."

Some Bloomington South students and parents defended their team.

"Coach Winters, he did the right thing. He played all nine players. I mean, he didn't try to blow them out, it just kind of happened," said student Levi Stull.

"I think on the other team's perspective, playing against people that are better only makes them better," said parent Alisha Parker.

But others said they think the adults should have stepped in.

"Something has to be done, because they got beat really bad, and that's not good for the morale for the girls that got beat or the girls that beat them," said parent Janna Castillo. "It should have been stopped."

Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox called the outcome of the game an "unfortunate occurrence" and added that there will be discussion about implementing a mercy rule.

"Any time you have a game that ends up 107-2, it's not a good situation from an educational-based athletic perspective," Cox said. "I don't think the school that wins by 105 points is actually gaining anything, and I certainly don't believe that the school that's being defeated by that large margin is gaining anything."

Cox said that previous mercy rule discussions had not garnered the support of coaching associations or IHSAA membership.

"The dynamic of competition is changing. (Arlington) used to be a large 4-A, urban school, and now they're a smaller turnaround academy. They have fewer students to pick from. They have new coaching staffs, new administrations," Cox said.

Cox added that he thinks there are limits to what coaches can do.

"You don't want to make a mockery of the game. You can put in the last five kids on the bench, and you can tell them not to shoot, but it's hard to tell young people when they're going out and playing in an interscholastic competition to not try to play," Cox said.

The IHSAA will consider implementing a running clock when the score reaches a certain differential, and games could be called after a 40-point lead is achieved.

Arlington Athletic Director Bob Wonnell said there are no hard feelings after the loss.

"We have no ill will toward Bloomington South whatsoever. Like I said, our programs are on totally different stages right now," he said.

Talk show host Bob Lovell, a longtime college and high school coach, said there were no winners in this game, but he said he isn't as certain about what he would have done. 

"If you tell you kids not to attack, not to score, or not to play, that's very, very difficult for them to do," he said.

Staysniak said he feels sorry for the players of both teams.

"When you look at a score of 107-2, nothing positive can come about that, because now it's on 'SportsCenter,' … and now people from Bloomington South are being lumped in with a group of 'You guys did that?'" Staysniak said. "I don't feel bad for the coach, because he's the one pulling the trigger."

But he didn't hold back on Winters.

"You need to have some class on the coach, in the coaching ranks. This guy's been around a long time. He's coached all-stars. What are you adding to your career?" Staysniak said. "How can you feel positive about something like that? You don't need to rub anyone's face in it."

Winters did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

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