Stagg had its girls basketball season end last Wednesday night when the Chargers dropped a 58-44 decision to Mother McAuley in the Oak Lawn Regional.
But it also picked up two victories that night without even playing a game.
Another District 230 squad, Sandburg, played the same night and walked away with a 53-49 victory over Crete-Monee in Orland Park.
The Eagles also picked up two more wins without having to play.
It was a unique and historic night in the world of high school sports. Fans, players and coaches from all over the state were buzzing that buzzsaw Homewood-Flossmoor not only was suspended from the postseason by Illinois High School Association officials hours before the Vikings were set to tip off against Thornton Fractional North but H-F had to forfeit all of its regular-season victories as well.
So Stagg, which lost 71-45 and 68-41 to the Vikings, and Sandburg, which lost 70-39 and 84-23 to them in Southwest Suburban Conference play, each picked up a couple of Ws that they weren’t expecting.
Coaches, players and parents from all over the state were laughing it up and enjoying the news of the H-F suspension.
The Vikings and coach Anthony Smith have been accused of many things since he took over this season. An internal investigation after an unnamed H-F parent filed a lawsuit against the school because six players transferred to the school revealed some wrongdoing. Four transfers were on his team at his former school, Bolingbrook. One was from Plainfield East and another, Bria Stallworth, was from Marist. Red flags were raised last summer when rumors of these transfers surfaced.
Before I start piling on, I have to say that I dealt with Coach Smith quite a bit when he was with Bolingbrook and he was always great to me. And I’m not going to get on a high horse about the evils of transferring because our family had a high school transfer situation and I’ve seen its merits and demerits.
Smith had been accused of skullduggery and recruiting players at Bolingbrook by coaches with strong thoughts who never wanted to go on the record about it. Kids from other regions and even other states transferred to his school to play for him.
But he had his good points, too. The dude won four state titles and had two second place finishes. He helped get college exposure for the players. And he was always harping on the players about their schoolwork and was as demanding about their GPAs as he was about their PPGs.
It’s not uncommon for winning programs to bring in kids from all over because of a team’s consistent success. Mt. Carmel’s football team draws them from all over, too. Because he helped build a program at the Brook that elite players wanted to go to, I never got too worked up over the situation.
When he was brought to H-F, it wasn’t out of the question to think that he would take a few more lumps than he would have liked the first couple of years , then he would develop the rich potential talent that is in his district and turn the Vikings into a state power.
But to have these star players from Bolingbrook and a stud player from Plainfield all pull up stakes and move to – or claim to move to -- the H-F district and turn the program into an instant monster had a bad smell to it. This is like a lot of the garbage going on in the Chicago Public League.
For a while, the IHSA washed its hands of it because it had approved these transfers and the schools the girls transferred from weren’t squawking about it.
But now investigations have revealed illegal practices and workouts were conducted and that Smith coached an AAU team in the fall with 11 of this year’s Vikings teams.
The AAU violation was the most puzzling. Publicly coaching a team at various locations in the Midwest isn’t exactly sneaking around. He was either being brazen and flaunting the rules or very stupid. Since he is not a stupid man…
It’s hard for anyone from the outside to feel sorry for the girls who were involved in all of this. While they and their parents are not innocent victims in all of this mess, it’s still a tough pill for them to swallow to work as hard as they did only to have the rug pulled out from under them hours before their first regional game.
But it was the right decision and the often-criticized IHSA deserves credit for making such a bold move.
Oh, and because of this, the state was looking at possible illegalities for the H-F boys program, too. But Tuesday afternoon, the IHSA announced no penalties would be levied.
Hot boys hoops coming
Some boys basketball history could be made next week in Palos Heights.
Four-time defending Class 4A champion Simeon is in the Shepard Regional and could play Richards or Stagg next Thursday.
Simeon hasn’t lost a postseason game since March 13, 2009 when the Wolverines were dumped 68-61 by Hyde Park at the Hinsdale Central Sectional.
Simeon is still strong but not an overwhelming powerhouse and it would be pretty cool to see one of our area teams break that stronghold.
If it can’t happen next week, it might happen at the Marist Sectional in two weeks. Curie, Whitney Young, Simeon and St. Rita are the four top seeds and if there are no upsets, Marist Athletic Director Bob Lim should be smiling from ear to ear as there should be three packed houses at the Mt. Greenwood school on March 11, 12 and 14.
The upper crust
The IHSA named its All-State Academic team and no one from the area made the first team, but the honorable mention list includes Brother Rice’s Jack Gorman, Mother McAuley’s Elizabeth Nye and Richards’ Sara Tobin.
Every IHSA member school was invited to nominate one female student and one male student and nominees needed to possess a minimum 3.50 grade point average on 4.0 scale after their seventh semester, needed to participate in at least two IHSA sponsored sports or activities during each of the last two years and demonstrated outstanding citizenship.