The Columbia Basin has always had good High School Athletics. No matter the sport, whether it is Football, Baseball, Gymnastics, Wrestling, Track, or Basketball, more often than not a team from our area advances pretty far into State Tournaments each and every year.

Of course winning and losing is a part of every game, but sportsmanship is something that should also be considered a high priority for any team, at any level of play. Connell High School Basketball apparently doesn't believe in that concept.

A game last month between the Connell Eagles and Highland Scots was recorded and posted on YouTube and showed the blatant lack of sportsmanship or, quality of play, from Connell High. In the video, which was actually being recorded to show the need for better officiating, you will see 6 'personal' fouls committed by the team's Centers, #34 Cole Vanderbilt and #42 Kennan VanHollebeke. Each of which could have been called flagrant, 3 of which definitely should have been called as such.

I understand in any sport, at any level, tempers flair and emotions can run high. Even in professional sports (For example Ndamakong Suh earlier this NFL season) but when things cross a certain line, actions need to be taken and referees and coaches need to step in and put a stop to it.

Talking to the Tri City Herald, Connell coach Oscar Garza had this to say about Vanderbilt:

He's a tough kid, but those that know him know he's a teddy bear. My 7-year-old son loves him and lights up when he's around. But on (YouTube) he's the world's meanest, ugliest kid. It's not fair, but I just want him to know his teammates and coaches are behind him. you are 'behind' playing sloppy, careless basketball? How about you admit that the kid is out of shape and terrible at playing his position. Just because you're near 300 pounds doesn't mean you can swing your arms and throw your weight around in a reckless manner. Garza did admit that the game was physical and there was a lot of trash talking. But, the way some of his players responded to that was over the line. According the Tri City Herald article, Garza said each of the fouls occurred in the game's first 10 minutes, but the game settled down from there.

There was a lot of heckling going on. After the first 10 minutes, Kennan had two fouls and Cole had three. I took them out and calmed them down. They played just as hard in the second half and only had one foul.

They shouldn't have been able to come back into the game. the first 10 minutes and you have 5 fouls of this nature? That's bush league. Physical play within the rules is one thing, but these kind of acts have no place in the game at all. Maybe they have their sports mixed up as both Vanderbilt and VanHollebeke are football players as well. Big shock their, huh?

Even worse, David Pierce, a 30-year veteran of the Tri-Cities Sports Officials Association said:

There were no problems and no fights. It's getting painted as flagrant fouls or intentional fouls, but it doesn't have anything to do with that. The guy took a camera and jaded it. He didn't show the whole game. He showed six plays.

You're right, he only showed 6 plays. Each of which were TERRIBLE fouls....but jaded? Painted? No. Recorded. These weren't super imposed, but simply ridiculous play that should have been handled by the referee. If the ref doesn't handle it, there is a good chance the players on the court will and that is never where you want things to go. This game could have gotten very out of hand. Major props to the Highland Scots team and coaches for keeping their composure and not letting their tempers boil over.

In the mumbled words of Sir Charles Barkley...This is just trrbl. What a buncha knuckleheads.

Foul #1 and #2: Both are hard fouls. Flagrant may have been over the top, especially that early in the game, but a definite warning to the player is necessary.
Foul #3:  Flagrant. Plain and simple. Made no effort to go for the ball. The player never made an attempt to even shoot, yet Vanderbilt swats the Highland player straight in the face. Notice as well that he steps over him after while a Connell teammate makes an attempt to help the other player up. Good job, "teddy bear".
Foul #4: Flagrant. Full arm extension shove to the back of another player. Emotions boiled over after he lost that rebound.
Foul #5: Flagrant. At this point, Vanderbilt should have been kicked out of the game. It's one thing to go for the ball and get tangled up, but the referee didn't handle the situation earlier in the game and Vanderbilt continued his sloppy, LAZY play and is lucky to have not injured the Highland player. By definition "A foul is considered flagrant when it involves excessive or violent contact which could injure the fouled player." Check the smug smirk on his face after the play as well. Wow. Stay classy, Connell. Even one of the officials comes up laughing and talking to Vanderbilt then slaps him on the back as to say 'good play'. What, is that you're uncle?
Foul #6: I'd say this one was just a hard foul, but considering the player committing the foul should have already been sent off for the night, its just ridiculous. Obviously Coach Garza doesn't mind sloppy play. Pathetic.

Clean up your act or get off the court. You're embarrassing yourself, you're school, and our entire area.