LAKELAND, FLA Lakeland, FL---The Chipley Tigers are heading home after falling in the 1A state semifinals to Hamilton, in a game that was never a fair fight after Chipley suspended three of it's players, including star sophomore Trent Forrrest.
Chipley went down to Lakeland for the 1A state semifinals with serious expectations of winning its second state title in three years.
Unfortunately they lost their semi Wednesday against Hamilton, beaten badly, 85-48. A big reason for the blowout loss, the Tigers being so out manned.
The three Chipley players who were suspended for the game, coach Orlando told us after the game, were Forrest, Sagar Patel and Brad
Hall. Orlando says the three "violated the school's travel policies".
Certainly not having Forrest in the lineup, who's already getting interest from program's like FSU, Georgia, Miami, in the lineup, a crushing blow to Chipley's chances.
Hamilton took advantage, and scored early and often, using a size edge inside, building a 43-23 lead by halftime. The Tigers couldn't recover and again, the final margin wound up being 38.
As for the violation, coach Orlando did not elaborate beyond violating the travel policies, but did express his frustration, telling me by phone late Wednesday afternoon ""Teaching and coaching is a difficult profession. Many times kids do not have discipline at home. Or many times they don't have a father figure, or they come from a dysfunctional family. Many times coaches become the one's who are the disciplinarians. It's not all situations, but some. The key to the whole thing is to be fair, honest and consistent. And the kids understand what they've done, the understand the rules and they have to pay, obviously, for their infractions."
Coach Orlando says by looking into the eyes of those three players, they realized the magnitude of letting their team and school down.
Orlando says short of some extra running in spring and summer for those players, he considers this matter closed, and no punishment will carry over into next season. He added, had his team been fortunate to win Wednesday, those players would have suited back up for Thursday's championship game.
That title game will pit Hamilton against Malone, which won the other semifinal 67-59 over Chiefland.