There's no shame in losing to a highly touted opponent, even in being blown out by an overpowering foe. Yet one Houston area school is taking that mantra to a new level, celebrating a 32-point loss simply because it held its opponent under 100 points.
The calls of moral victory resounded after Yates (Texas) High, the defending RivalsHigh national champions, knocked off Chavez (Texas) High, 97-65 last week. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Lions -- again ranked among the nation's best -- rested their starters throughout a fourth quarter in which Chavez didn't even attempt to score, instead passing the ball around to run out the clock before Yates could reach the century mark.
"We've never had a team score 100 on us," Chavez coach Kevin Pullum told the Chronicle. "We knew that if we couldn't beat Yates we could beat them a second way, and that is to not let them score 100 points.
"We knew they'd been scoring 100 points consecutively on teams, and this was just a great battle for us, because we can go back and say we held them under 100 points."
While "limiting" Yates to 97 points might seem like an accomplishment for the 2-5 Lobos, deliberately abandoning all offensive intentions in the process only seems to weaken them in the long run. One can easily question whether Pullum was putting the best interest of his team's future ahead of his own pride.
Yet that hardly influenced him to free his players to score in the fourth, despite playing against all of Yates' reserves. The Lions led 30-21 after the first quarter and 65-42 at halftime, so there was little doubt about the outcome in the second half, all of which contributed to extended playing time for Yates' backups.
"I don't understand what that was accomplishing or what the celebration was about because if we wanted to score 100 we would have put the first five back out there," Yates coach Greg Wise told the Chronicle.
"If you go back and look at the facts of how we play, even before this started, we always did the same thing. We've played everybody and I've never put the first group in like that."
Wise is particularly sensitive to claims of "running up the score" after his team was placed in a national spotlight for routing Lee (Texas) High, 170-35 during his team's undefeated, 34-0, 2009-10 campaign. He insists that he will never abandon his team's mentality, which focuses on an aggressive trapping defense, regardless of a score. That helped put the Lions in the spotlight last year, when they were once accused of fouling during the final minutes of a blowout while trying to reach 100 points, an incident which preceded a national record run of 15 straight 100-point games. Yet Wise also insists that the team's backups are used whenever a game gets out of hand once the Lions' first unit has received enough playing time.
Instead, it was the Yates coach who this time cried foul at the tactics being used against his team.
"To me that was a reversal of people saying we're trying to run the score up," Wise said.