91-39 Blowout Comes With A Lesson For Victors

Melissa Bailey PhotoHigh 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”

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posted by: Wildwest on May 24, 2013  9:29am

Clough should be teaching sportsmanship by NOT running up the score, but hey, I guess I’m just old fashioned.

posted by: HewNaven on May 24, 2013  12:15pm

HSC has dominated this league from the beginning a few years ago. Why don’t they try moving to a more competitive high school basketball league. They seem out of place in the alternative league. Then again, they push all the other teams to improve, so that’s not a bad thing. But, they are really on a different level.

posted by: robn on May 28, 2013  1:09pm

Its ridiculous to run a score up that much. Clough should have put second and third stringers on court for the second half.
Bad coaching=bad behavior!