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Kevin Hieronymus

Feeling the sting of poor sportsmanship at IHSA finals

Thought I was watching the IHSA state basketball championship Saturday night, but then one of the IHSA’s Do What’s Right plugs suddenly appeared. You know the ones featuring the bully in the science lab and the jerk in the board room.

The promos say you wouldn’t act like that here, so why do it at the game.

Only problem, this was the real deal. The South Holland Seton Academy Sting and coach Brandon Thomas apparently have never seen those sportsmanship clips. Their attitude was quite a bit different than the IHSA’s “Add A Tude.”

Seton all-stater Mark Weems Jr. was fouled in the title game, but instead of going to the free-throw line, he chose to say something to a Harrisburg player. When Weems Jr. was given a technical for his actions, he proceeded to make contact with an official. That landed him another T and an automatic ejection from the game.

Seton’s championship hopes went down with Weems Jr. as Harrisburg proceed to cash in on a four-point play and went on to post a 50-44 victory to take the first-place trophy back home with them. The Sting had a 10-point lead before the incident.

That was most untimely for Seton, something that happened in the heat of the moment. What happened later was simply unacceptable.

Upset by the outcome of the game and how it happened, Thomas decided he didn’t want anything the IHSA had to give him. He would not allow the IHSA representative to put the state medallion around his neck as he walked across the podium during the awards ceremony, simply taking it from her hand. Once off the podium, he quickly tossed it to the Seton athletic director as if it was a piece of garbage before exiting stage left.

Thomas, who also blew off the IHSA’s scheduled halftime interview, became involved in a verbal altercation with a fan, who had razzed him about his actions during the awards ceremony, according to the Peoria Journal Star.

IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said if the Sting didn’t come out to accept the trophy during the awards ceremony, they would never get it. The IHSA catches a lot of grief over its government of state high school sports, but Hickman was right on here.

That trophy should just go right back to A&M Products in Princeton for display for future promotions. I share the same opinion of the IHSA that Seton relinquished all rights to it.

Thomas action’s were more than unsportsmanship-like. He let his team down. A coach is supposed to be the one that sets the example for his team, able to ride through the most difficult of times and teach your kids life lessons.

The Seton players followed Thomas’ example alright. There was more than one Sting player who either would not accept the medallion to be presented around his neck or immediately took it off.

To his credit, Thomas has apologized for his actions through a statement that has been published in the Chicago Tribune. In that statement, he said: “While my actions have given the appearance of poor sportsmanship, it was not my intent. I am truly saddened that this situation occurred and that it has diminished the hard work and effort put forth by our young men and that of the school administrators and coaches who supported us throughout the season.”

I would ask coach Thomas to continue to take a step further with his apology, perhaps appearing on a future Do What’s Right promo for the IHSA on how not to act.

As I finish off this column, the vote in the Vatican still appears to be on hold after a rather confusing puff of grayish smoke this morning that confused many if it was white or black. If the Cardinals can’t come to a decision soon, I have an idea — put in a real Cardinal like Red Schoendienst or Tony LaRussa. Just thinking.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com

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