By Ray Hamill — Saint Mary’s has responded to criticism regarding the inaccurate information the school provided to the NCS last weekend, saying it was simply a mistake on the school’s part.
Or two of them to be exact.
The school listed an inaccurate score on its application for the girls basketball playoffs, something it has since put down to “human error” and not a lie as the NCS had indicated earlier in the week.
In correspondence to the school, NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon says he “came to the conclusion that your submitted application was just in error, that there was no malice or effort to deceive the at-large & seeding committee.”
In addition, St. Mary’s head coach Chris Toler claimed he did not know the criteria for an at-large berth, which the team did not even qualify to apply for.
The problem, however, is twofold.
One, their claimed incompetence — on two counts, no less — cost the McKinleyville girls the chance to host a playoff game, something their players have been working hard toward achieving all season, and something that was a conscious goal for them.
it would have been the program’s first home playoff game in seven years and the final chance for two seniors to ever play in one.
This team was never going to win an NCS title, and a home playoff game was always going to be the pinnacle of the season, something they were robbed of by St. Mary’s actions, intended or not.
McKinleyville head coach Tony McClure has talked enthusiastically to me about the possibility of a home playoff game since before Christmas, while knowing exactly what criteria would qualify his team, and what criteria would prevent them.
It’s part of a coach’s job to know what the criteria are. In all my time as a local sportswriter, I have honestly never known a prep coach in any sport not to always be aware of their team’s status in regard to playoff qualification at any stage of the season.
Most of them even piece together their schedule with the criteria in mind, so if the St. Mary’s coach is telling the truth I find it bizarre that he would not know something so important.
And if you don’t know the criteria, read them. It’s not War and Peace. It’s a few simple lines on the NCS web site.
(The inaccurate information provided by St. Mary’s to the NCS also cost the Del Norte girls a bye, although that’s relatively meaningless now after the Warriors cruised through their opener without any concerns.)
The second problem I have with it all, is that it’s another case of the NCS and Bay Area schools largely ignoring the concerns of the H-DNL teams and too casually selling them short.
In the past three months alone, we’ve seen several examples of this in football and cross country, and many people here believe it’s been going on for years.
A lack of respect for the isolated northern part of the section where few teams ever like to venture.
As a local sportswriter, I can tell you I’ve been hearing about it for years.
I also have a problem with something else.
Saint Mary’s was very quick to defend itself when the criticism went public, but as of Friday evening the school had yet to reach out to the McKinleyville girls, the one group affected most by the school’s “human error.”
When asked on Friday evening, had anyone at his school reached out to McKinleyville yet, St. Mary’s principal Peter Imperial told me his AD phoned Mack High that day.
If that’s true, no one told the girls team, which had not heard anything from St. Mary’s by Friday evening, five days after the incident.
Maybe they weren’t brazen. But they weren’t very considerate or contrite either. At least not until provoked on the matter.
The NCS won’t do anything here, which we all kind of knew anyway, and Saint Mary’s could very well be telling the truth when the school claims it was merely human error.
One would certainly hope no coach would deliberately lie to qualify his or her team for the playoffs, or set that type of example for his or her student athletes.
Saint Mary’s said in an email to Humboldt Sports on Friday afternoon, “We regret our error, especially the fact that the lower-seeded teams would have moved up a spot. That said, at no time was there an intent to deceive anyone. No one lied. No one tried to cheat. Nothing done was brazen.”
But intent or not, St. Mary’s did provide inaccurate information while applying for something it had no business even applying for, and the people responsible should have known better in both instances.
Their actions denied the McKinleyville girls the opportunity they’ve been fighting for all season.
How fair is that?