Girls Basketball: Rich Central blows by JulianRich Central's Ashley Blohm-Bivins, (right, in street clothes) watches her teammates play Julian High School on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 in Olympia Fields, Ill. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 15, 2012 10:13PM
Wednesday was all about moving forward for Rich Central girls basketball.
For Chaz Duson, it was about moving fast-forward.
The 5-foot-10 senior, returning the court for the first time since Jan. 14, made up for lost time with a 42-point performance in host Rich Central’s 100-38 Class 3A victory over Julian.
Duson had missed the Olympians’ previous six games because of academic ineligibility.
“I was thirsty,” Duson said. “Real excited, too. There was a lot of tension building up in me. I let it all out this game.
“Now it’s over with, and now we’re at state (playoffs).”
Duson added 12 rebounds, while Jessica Warren contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds and Alex Stanford 12 points as the Olympians advanced to Friday’s regional final.
It has been a tumultuous 13 days for Rich Central, which on Feb. 3 was penalized by the IHSA for allowing a transfer student to suit up before receiving clearance to do so. The ruling declared that all games in which senior Ashley Blohm-Bivins had participated in were to be forfeited.
“Our record is 9-19 for the regular season,” said Rich Central athletic director Don Parker, who is submitting his findings to the IHSA. “She played in 16 games, but we lost three of those games.”
The forfeits cost the Olympians, along with high Thanksgiving and Christmas tournament finishes, a tie for first place for the Southland Athletic Conference title with Rich South.
Parker, for the first time, addressed the issue of compliance papers that were not turned in to the IHSA until Jan. 30. At that time, Glenbard South, where Blohm-Bivins attended as a junior, objected to her eligibility, according to IHSA executive director Marty Hickman. Blohm-Bivins had attended Rich Central during her freshman and sophomore years.
“It was a mistake,” Parker said. “We’ve put some processes in place to make sure it never happens again because of paperwork. Some of our procedures we’re looking to improve.
“We don’t like to point fingers at people. It’s something that collectively we need to look at together, to make sure we cross our T’s and dot our I’s. I spoke to the girls and explained the situation to them. We had a discussion, and we want the program to move forward and put all of this in our rear-view mirror. We’ve got a good team, and I’m looking forward to them performing well in the postseason.”
Blohm-Bivins has remained with the team and Wednesday sat on the bench in street clothes.
“I’m here to cheer my team on,” she said. “Hopefully, they’re going to move on from this and go downstate. I was surprised (at the compliance mistake), but I’m just trying to look forward.
“We’re upset about the whole conference thing, but we’ve got state on our minds now. I missed Rich Central. That’s one of the reasons I came back. I’m not angry. Everybody has honest mistakes. We’re going to accept the apology and keep moving. Nobody is going to hold a grudge with anybody.”
Duson exploded out of the blocks against Julian (12-12), going 8-of-9 from the field and scoring 18 points in the first quarter. She was soon joined in the points parade by Stanford and Warren. It was 52-18 at the half. The Olympians never looked back.
“This was something that we needed,” Stanford said of the offensive explosion. “We’ve got to prove to everybody again that we had our record (22-6 before the forfeits) for a reason. When we found out, it was pretty much closure after that. I was like, ‘OK, it happened. All we have to do is know what happened and move on with it.”
Olympians coach Bryan Craig said that breaking the news to the players was a difficult task.
“They were down, but I couldn’t let them know that I was down also,” he said. “I tried to stay positive through everything, and thank God we’re able to have a postseason, because that’s what they want, that’s what they deserve.
“We were just trying to execute today. That’s the main reason I kept the main girls in most of the time. There are certain plays we have to work on and we have to do them the exact way I drew them up.”
The final play, which resulted in a basket by Stanford, put the Olympians at the century mark.
“Yeah ... I know. That’s pretty bad,” Craig said. “But overall I was just trying to execute. Julian fought all the way through.”
Julian coach Gary Lewis took it in stride.
“You know, that’s the first time I’ve had 100 points hit on me in my 10 years,” he said, smiling. “No, it didn’t bother me, man. As long as my girls kept their spirit up, and kept their effort up, I was fine with that.
“I mean, they could have waited and (scored 100) further on down the road against Morgan Park or somebody, but I guess the coach did what he had to do.”