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Former girls basketball player recalls sadness, motivation from humiliating loss


12:00 AM, Dec. 12, 2012 EST

Erin Bammann went to the sideline desperately trying not to add tears to the sweat on her face.

She was an overmatched freshman point guard at International High School four years ago, facing a University team that would win a regional title. She wanted out of the game. "I came to the sideline and said, 'Take me out. I'm done.' I broke down on the sideline, basically," Bammann said of the eventual 58-17 loss. A 41-point loss isn't the same as Arlington's 107-2 loss to Bloomington South on Tuesday, but it brought back unpleasant memories for Bammann, now a student at Indiana University. She also thought of what International built from the lessons learned in that and other games. The following season, International posted its first winning record and finished 16-5 last season when Bammann was a senior. "Was (the University loss) worth it?" Bammann said. "I don't know. It was not a fun experience. But I wouldn't change it because it made our team grow. Our whole team wanted to get better and not be in that position (again). (The loss) fueled the fire. The negative (memories) stick with you but there's ways to use that." Tuesday's result instantly had people expressing their outrage on social media, but those closest to such situations echoed Bammann. Though no one believes a 105-point margin of victory should happen --- and it could result in the Indiana High School Athletic Association instituting a mercy rule --- teams can use such losses to improve. "Athletes are really good at ensuring they have a short memory, especially in sports where there are so many performance opportunities," said Dr. Adam Shunk, a psychologist for St. Vincent Sports Performance. "So the key to getting through something like this is to make it a learning experience and to be able to re-evaluate goals to move forward." International coach Randy Saxton took over the program in its second full season and lost games 79-12 and 88-19, but is not in favor of a mercy rule. "I want coaching common sense," he said. Saxton, who has also been on the positive side of blowouts, uses them as another practice, working against whatever defense and offense his team is facing. He won't just let the opposing team score points -- "That's just as humiliating," he said -- but he'll sit his starters, won't let his players shoot layups and require 12 passes before a shot. He'll also employ a relaxed man-to-man defense or 2-3 zone. Lawrence Central was 14-140 from 2003-04 to 2009-10. Current Arlington coach Ebony Jackson, who earned a scholarship to Indiana University, played two seasons for the Bears during that stretch before transferring to Arlington. Lawrence Central's fortunes have changed. Last season, they were 13-7. This season, the Bears had a 62-11 victory over Broad Ripple. Coach John Albers, who was 1-19 his first season and an assistant earlier during the program's struggles, is in favor of an extreme mercy rule. By that, he means a 40- or 50-point lead at the end of the third quarter. He also believes coaches can limit the scoring. Against Broad Ripple he required a shot to be open as the result of a specific play. "When a team gets that far ahead, you've proven you're the better team," Bammann said. "Out of respect, hold back. I'm not saying stop scoring. But say you've gotten to 50, what are you learning from that? It's easy to come out of a game like that and feel angry. I'm sure Bloomington South probably felt bad."

 

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