High School in the Community’s undefeated basketball team hit nothing but net from the 3-point line—and got into hot water with the referees—in a high-scoring and high-tempered game against New Horizons.
HSC’s four-year-old basketball team trounced New Horizons High School by 91 to 39 Wednesday afternoon at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School.
The team now boasts a 15-0-0 record in the latest season of New Haven’s alternative high school basketball league, which has nine teams.
Meanwhile, HSC scored fewer points with an athletics director who turned the game into not just a sporting match, but a lesson in behavior as well.
HSC dominated the first half of the game. By halftime, the scoreboard looked like it had a typographical error: HSC had already reached an eye-popping 51 points, while New Horizons’s score was still in the teens.
The second half was tense. Players on both sides racked up fouls for blocking and pushing.
The tension culminated when one of HSC’s top players was ejected from the game for allegedly cursing at the ref, twice, in quick succession. The player got two technical fouls. He was benched for the rest of the game and banned from the next one.
Soon after the student’s ejection, John Vigliotti, a principal on special assignment in the athletics department, called a timeout. He brought both teams into a circle in the middle of the court for a talk.
He asked them to forget “bad blood” and harsh words. He told them to “cool down” and “take a step back” so that “nobody gets injured.”
The game went more smoothly after the talk.
HSC had been playing a full-court press, pressing up right against the offense in attempt to steal the ball. HSC coach Dave Clough pulled his team into a 2-3 zone defense, which he described as “less aggressive.”
Darius Rountree, HSC’s highest scorer of the game, shot two beautiful 3-point swishes.
Even without one of its top players, HSC still racked up plenty of outside shots, rebounds and free-throws.
Security guards watching the game from below the basket wondered aloud if the team would top 100, which they said would be a first in the league. The team’s score ended at 91.
Despite the easy win, Clough called the game “unfortunate.”
“I don’t want to beat any team by that much,” he said.
He said both sides began taunting each other even before the game began. Tension built in part because HSC had just beaten New Horizons the week prior, so wounds were raw, Clough said. Throughout Wednesday’s game, opposing players trash-talked over how many points they would get.
Clough said Wednesday’s contest would serve as a lesson in post-game discussions about respect and keeping cool.
By day, Clough (pictured) is known as HSC’s 6-foot-7 behavior manager (official title: dean of students). He said he has been trying to work through some character-building lessons this year with the 13 kids on the team. He said the team has become an avenue to reach some kids who are at danger of dropping out of school.
For some kids, “the only way to keep them until graduation is to pull them on the team,” he said. “It’s my tool to keep them coming to school.”
The team has quickly risen to dominance in its four years. The team practices only once a week, on Friday afternoons. Yet HSC still finished first in its league the past two years. Clough credited the success not to individual players, but to communication within the team. All 13 kids get playing time, even if they’re not the top players, he said. Two are playing basketball for the first time.
Clough—who also launched the school’s bike-repair program, in which students fix up bicycles and give them away to kids in need—said he sees basketball as a way to mentor kids. Basketball lends itself well to lessons in self-confidence, staying focused, and dealing with failure, he noted.
Clough’s work continued off-court Wednesday morning, when two girls at HSC got into a fight at school. The girls, a freshman and a junior, had an ongoing dispute which Clough said boiled down to “girl gossip.” The junior jumped the freshman in the bathroom. A police officer arrived on scene, as did Kim Johnsky, the school system administrator assigned to supervise the school. Clough sent the freshman to the hospital as a precaution because of the “high-adrenaline” factor in the fight. The victim returned to school shortly after with no injuries to report. Clough sent the junior home for the day. The school principal, who was out of the building Wednesday, will determine punishment upon his return.
Previous Independent stories on High School in the Community:
• New Haven Rallies For Solanlly & Chastity
• Social Promotion Vow Put To The Test
• HSC Heads To Capitol For New Diplomas
• She Awoke To A New Life—& A New Mission
• High School Of The Future Debuts, Briefly
• Gay-Rights Teach-In Goes Off-Script
• Nikita Makes It Home
• 15 Seniors Head To College Early
• No More “B And A Smile”
• Students Protest: “Give Us Homework!”
• Meadow Street Clamps Down On Turnaround
• School Votes For Hats; District Brass Balks
• Students Invoke Free Speech In Great Hat Debate
• Guv: End Social Promotion
• History Class Hits The Streets
• “Misfit Josh” & Alex Get A 2nd Chance
• Guess Who’s Assigning The Homework Now
• On Day 1, HSC Students Enter A New World
• Frank Reports Detail Experiment’s Ups & Downs
• School Ditches Factory “Assembly Line”
• State “Invites” HSC To Commissioner’s Network
• Teachers Union Will Run New “Turnaround”