On Feb. 2, the California City boys basketball program was on top of the world.
The Ravens beat Frazier Mountain, 165-38, breaking a state-record for points scored in a game, according to Cal-Hi Sports.
The margin of victory is also the largest in state history.
The win and records came with a price, however.
Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow said he sent a letter this week to the California City administration putting the program on probation with the caveat that if the Ravens beat an opponent like that again, the section will suspend the team from playoff consideration.
“That is not pursuing victory with honor or the educational-based athletics that we all believe in,” Crichlow said. “I was shocked. I know they have a really good team, no question. When I saw that score, I was embarrassed for our section that it happened.”
Cal City, the reigning section Division V champion, is 20-6 this season and 8-1 in High Desert League play.
When reached via social media direct message, Cal City administration declined to make Ravens’ head coach Ronald Fleming available for comment.
An email to Athletic Director Daniel Williford on Friday afternoon was not returned by the time this story went to publication.
Seven times this season the Ravens have scored over 100 points in a game. That includes a 122-53 win over Acton-Vasquez, and a 118-53 win over Frazier Mountain on Jan. 16.
In a recent email to The Californian regarding her team's Feb. 2 loss to Cal City, Frazier Mountain head coach Nicole Powell wrote: "The lack of sportsmanship in that game was incredible."
"While the score says something about their incredible athletic ability, it also shows minimal appreciation for 'Victory with Honor,'" Powell continued.
Powell wrote that Cal City ran a full-court press defense until the final buzzer sounded.
The reaction from other section officials and area coaches has been largely negative.
Independence coach Stan Davis, who's team beat Cal City 91-66 this season, is not a fan of running up the score.
“It’s zero respect for the opponent,” Davis said. “You can pull back and work on half-court stuff. They need it. They need it against a good team. It’s arrogant.”
A longtime area player and coach, Davis said, “Running it up like that, it’s wrong. You don’t do that. You don’t humilate teenage kids like that.”
“Ideally you are teaching values, respect and humility,” Davis continued. “Obviously that doesn’t seem to be a concern. I don’t like it when my kids laugh even when someone gets crossed over. You can respect the game and still be really good. It’s not rocket science. My guess is they didn’t think about what they were doing. But that’s just me guessing.”
Assistant section commissioner Jeff Cardoza was a basketball coach, including a stint at Fresno-Washington Union when the Panthers won the 2004 D-III title.
“I’ve been on the same side as (Cal City) at Washington Union,” Cardoza said. “Our league was not that good and even with the caliber of players we had, we didn’t do that. We would rotate starters in and out. We didn’t have to worry about losing games and we mixed lineups up. You want to win, but you don’t want to demoralize.”
Cardoza stated that the section office will use this game as a instructional tool — what to do and what not to do in a high school sporting event in terms of sportsmanship.
“We have to take this as a teaching moment,” Cardoza said. “There is more than the win. I am privileged to hear a lot of people who do things the right way. Your legacy is what you leave behind. That’s the message we want to send through our office. I can’t remember one this bad, I really can’t and I’ve been around basketball here in the Valley for a long time.”
Powell ended her email stating, "Unfortunately, my team will forever remember this as an unpleasant, humiliating contest that is in the record books."