A girls high school basketball game in San Bernadino, California, that finished with a 159-point margin of victory (161-2) for Arroyo Valley High School over Bloomington High School Jan. 5 led to a two-game suspension for its coach, Michael Anderson.
Troy Machir of Sporting News reports Anderson will be eligible to return to the sideline next Monday for one of the region's most talented squads. He's received plenty of criticism for running up the score against an obviously overmatched opponent:
The Hawks had scored more than 100 points twice before the 159-point blowout, but the backlash from the thrashing resulted in a two-game suspension for Anderson.
In the first game without their head coach, the Hawks beat Indian Springs High School 80-19 on Jan. 14. The Hawks were coached by Anderson's 19-year-old son Nicholas. Anderson spent some of his time off scouting a league opponent.
Machir posted a photo of the final score on Twitter:
Anderson told Landon Negri of the Orange County Register that he met with opposing coach Dale Chung before the game to discuss the situation. He was trying to balance getting his team prepared for league play with avoiding an embarrassing scenario.
"This was our last game before we started league, and we were going to come out playing hard," he said. "I wanted to let him know there was no harm intended, and that if he had any ideas or concerns just to let me know. We were going to play a half of basketball, at least... And he seemed fine with that."
He tried to slow the onslaught by benching his starters at halftime and telling his reserves to burn the shot clock before trying to score. A running clock isn't allowed until the fourth quarter under current high school rules.
Chung still wasn't pleased with the lack of sportsmanship, though. He made his feeling crystal clear in a report from Pete Marshall of The San Bernardino County Sun.
Was Anderson's suspension warranted?
"People shouldn't feel sorry for my team. They should feel sorry for his team, which isn't learning the game the right way," he said.
He also questioned Anderson's approach.
"I've known him for about seven years... He's a great X's and O's coach. Ethically? Not so much," he said. "He knows what he did was wrong."
Ultimately, this type of situation tends to pop up a couple times every season. There's a fine line between an acceptable display of dominance and going overboard. When the talent gap is significant, it can be difficult for a coach to slow things down once it gets out of hand.
Changes would likely have to come from the top of regional high school basketball hubs. A solution where games that are no longer competitive don't turn into these type of stories. Perhaps something along the lines of stopping scorekeeping at halftime.