Terrence Johnson, the head girls’ basketball coach at Brockton (Mont.) High School, knew his team would be in trouble by lunchtime Friday.
Neither he, nor anyone else who attended Friday’s game at the Warriors’ gym against the Froid-Medicine Lake Redhawks, knew how much trouble they would be in until the final score was displayed ominously on the scoreboard: Redhawks 102, Warriors 0.
Research shows it is the very first time any basketball team has been shutout in the state of Montana, and only the 20th time it has ever happened in any level of basketball since 1907.
Johnson, who has been the varsity coach in Brockton for seven years, normally would have had “nine or ten girls” available at game time. But as that hour drew closer for the Warriors’ first game of the 2017-18 season, he started losing players for various reasons.
Finally, he got the word at noon Friday.
“My other girl came down sick and couldn’t go, so we had to start the game with only five players,” Johnson said. “We had one eighth-grader, a first-year freshman and three sophomores. One sophomore was playing for the first time since sixth grade, the freshman had never really played ball until this year.
“The ones who couldn’t play were my upperclassmen; my ball handlers.”
On this night, the Warriors were facing a much larger and more experienced Redhawks squad that boasts at three girls who stand – in order – 6 feet, 6-1, and 6-2. Brockton’s tallest player Friday was 5-7. Johnson noted this same Froid-Lake team played Poplar tough the night before – a Class B school – took a narrow victory.
“We knew what we were getting into,” Johnson said. “We spent two weeks getting ready for this game, but when we got down to five players, all of our plans went right out the window.
“We got down quickly and stopped taking stats in the first quarter. I’m not sure if we even hit double figures in field goal attempts.”
Those five players went down to four when one of his sophomores turned her ankle early in the second half. The Warriors would lose a second girl in the final 10 second to a knee injury.
“She was coming down the floor and came to a jump stop, and she went down,” Johnson added without naming the player. “She just sat on the floor while the refs held the ball until the clock ran out.”
Froid-Medicine Lake Coach Lance Brekke felt bad for the Brockton kids once the game got out of hand.
“This will never happen again, that’s for sure,” Brekke said. “The integrity of the game just went out the window.”
The Redhawks held a 59-0 lead at halftime, which started a continuous running clock for the final two quarters, much like the continuous clock utilized in football when a team has a 35-point lead or more. But Brekke said he didn’t know whether he personally could have stopped the game.
“I know the referees could have called the game after it went out of hand,” Brekke said.
Attempts to contact MHSA executive director Mark Beckman on Monday were not successful.
Johnson and his girls hold no ill feeling toward Brekke or the Redhawks.
“My girls did everything possible to score, and we were trying to find a way to get a crooked number up there,” Johnson added. “They did nothing wrong. At the end of the day, they all went home and asked: ‘What’s for dinner, Mom?’”