Academy basketball coach sees a win in 100-0 loss

Thanks to a friend, Matt W. For emailing me this quality story about morale victories, and bad basketball.
12:38 PM CST on Thursday, January 22, 2009

By BARRY HORN / The Dallas Morning News
bhorn@dallasnews.com
The final score of the high school girls basketball game was 100-0, and his team had the nothing. Still, a week later, Dallas Academy Athletic Director Jeremy Civello was chalking up the game in the win column.

Dallas Academy players and coach look back on the game and talk about never quitting and playing for more than the final score.

“My girls never quit,” he said. “They played as hard as they could to the very end. They played with all their hearts at 70-nothing, 80-nothing and 100-nothing. I was really proud of them. That’s what I told them after the game.”

The game took place Jan. 13, on the road, against The Covenant School. Civello didn’t expect his girls to win. He never really does. His girls haven’t won a game in his four seasons at the White Rock Lake-area school, renowned for its work with students with a variety of learning problems. In most games, they haven’t come close.

The Bulldogs play, Civello said, for more than the final score. They play in hope of improving skills, learning teamwork and picking up whatever life lessons athletics may bring.

But they won’t be playing Covenant again this season; they canceled their Jan. 30 game against the team. After the game, Dallas Academy informed the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools that it was withdrawing its girls team from the league for the rest of the season.

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“We just said, ‘The hell with it,’ ” said Jim Richardson, Dallas Academy’s headmaster.

Against Covenant, Dallas Academy was surprised to see an obviously superior team keep the pressure on until it scored its 100th point in the fourth quarter. “I’m sure they could have won by 30 points and still had just as good a time,” Civello said.

Civello, as is his custom, didn’t say anything to anyone from the opposing school after the game. He always allows for a cooling-down period. A week later, he has not been in contact with anyone from Covenant.

In a brief e-mail statement Wednesday evening, Covenant coach Micah Grimes called his team’s 100-point total “unfortunate.”

“It just happened, and we are not happy about that,” Grimes wrote. “Please know Covenant intended no harm against them. I see this as a real learning opportunity, so we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

Grimes was not available for further comment.

Kyle Queal, head of school at Covenant, a North Dallas Christian school, was not at the game, but he said there have been internal discussions about it and that more are coming.

“It was poor judgment,” Queal said. “I look at the box score and look at the box score, and it was not justified. It will never happen again.”

Queal said he hopes his school will work “behind the scenes” with Dallas Academy to make sure the schools continue their “long-standing” relationship.

“I’ll say this,” Queal said of the Dallas Academy girls, “that was an amazing testimony to their tenacity and perseverance.”

Edd Burleson, director of 236-member TAPPS, had a different description. He called the Class 2A, District 3 game an “embarrassing incident.”

“Our motto is ‘Competition With Honor,’ ” Burleson said. “I can’t see how the one school can live up to that.”

The box score that the Covenant head of school has been staring at reveals that his team scored 35 points in the first quarter before building a 59-0 lead at the half. The score after three quarters was 88-0.

“They are really good,” Civello said. “Their point guard is terrific. This is what it came down to in the second half: steal at half court and layup. Steal and layup. Steal and layup. It was a layup drill. They finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left.” Covenant’s point guard had 48 points.

Dallas Academy is busy piecing together a new schedule of nonleague games. The school, which has final exams this week, played its final TAPPS game of the season Thursday night. The Bulldogs lost, 41-8, to Cambridge School of Dallas.

Cambridge Athletic Director Luke Yarbrough, the TAPPS district president, said he hired his basketball coach with the understanding “that it is possible to beat a team without attempting to demoralize it.”

He said he could see the joy on the faces of the Dallas Academy girls when their team scored its points. He enjoyed the view. “I was so happy for those girls,” he said.

Yarbrough said the 100-0 game will be among the first orders of business discussed when the district athletic directors meet next month.

Dallas Academy’s Civello will be there. His school’s boys team remains in the six-team TAPPS district. In fact, he was quick to point out that his boys, with a little extra motivation, beat Covenant, 50-38, immediately after the 100-0 girls game.

Then again, the boys team has about 120 students to choose from. There are about 20 girls in the high school. Some on the eight-girl team had never played before and will never play again.

“Most of these girls would never play on any other school in the state,” he said. “But they can say they were high school varsity players here. And they can say it with a sense of achievement.”

Later on the 100-0 night, Civello told his girls the life lesson they could take from their loss: “I told them someday they will be on top in a similar situation and they should remember how they felt when some people were cheering for a team to score a hundred points and shut us out. Hopefully, my girls all learned a lesson in sportsmanship that will last them a lifetime.”

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