NO good deed goes unpunished. That's the moral of the story in the wake of the All-American Conference, American Division girls basketball game between Howland and Niles on Jan. 5.
The Tigers won, 65-8, and it could have been much worse.
And it would have been worse, if not for the efforts of Howland coach John Diehl.
The Tigers led 29-0 after one quarter, but Diehl called off their press early. He also substituted liberally throughout the game and frequently ordered his players not to go to the basket on breakaways, instead instructing them to pull the ball out and work on passing and other fundamentals.
Some Niles parents even remarked to a Tribune Chronicle correspondent who was in attendance that Diehl was to be commended for not allowing the obviously one-sided matchup to become even uglier.
But in a recent letter to the editor, a reader opined otherwise, suggesting Diehl and the Tigers had done the Red Dragons wrong.
More than a few readers fired back in a series of comments on our website and in an email message. Some of the messages were from readers associated with the Niles team, including one person who identified herself as a Red Dragons player.
The vast majority of them made it clear that criticism of Diehl and the Tigers was unwarranted.
Good for them. I'm glad they stood up for Diehl, his assistant coaches and the Howland players, who absolutely did nothing wrong. A coach without Diehl's compassion and sportsmanship could have seen to it that game was much more one-sided.
Howland's program is now - and has been for some time - in a much different place than then Niles program, and it isn't Diehl's fault the Red Dragons haven't been better.
And yet, the Tigers did not try to embarrass Niles. Howland could have easily exceeded 100 points if that was Diehl's goal.
How do I know? Another opponent recently defeated the Red Dragons, 91-30. The Howland-Niles score looked worse than it was because the Red Dragons simply couldn't put the ball in the basket. They made three field goals in the game.
Short of scoring baskets for Niles, I'm not sure what the Tigers could have done to keep the outcome respectable enough to suit the tastes of their critic.
A lesser coach and man might be tempted to keep his foot on his team's gas pedal next time, just to prove a point. I'm not sure I'd be able to resist that temptation.
But Diehl is better than that.
One way or another, there will be no repeat of Howland's victory. The Tigers and Red Dragons are not scheduled to play again this season.
TEBOW REDUX: It was fascinating to watch the Tim Tebow situation unfold, as the Denver Broncos quarterback became a nationwide sensation in leading his team to the playoffs and then stun everyone - especially the Pittsburgh Steelers - in a first-round playoff game.
But what struck me even more than Tebow's exploits was the ferocity with which his critics attacked him. And it wasn't all because they didn't think he was a viable NFL QB. Tebow was mocked just as much - if not more in some circles - because of his outward expression of faith.
"Tebowing," it came to called, as the former Florida star would drop to one knee and now his head before and after games.
So let me get this right:
Tebow - by all indications a fine young man with no known history of bad behavior and few bad habits other than a throwing motion which apparently doesn't fit the NFL prototype - is openly ridiculed, while other players are celebrated despite lengthy rap sheets or a history of running afoul of law of commissioner Roger Goodell in other ways.
Sure, that makes perfect sense. Tebow is just the guy we should all root against.
MEYER SIGHTING: Multiple sources indicate Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is expected to make a few stops in the area today.
If all goes as planned on National Signing Day, Meyer has already collected enough verbal commits to turn the Buckeyes' 2012 recruiting class from also-ran status to a top-five group. Some recruit-niks have OSU's class in the top three.
Maybe Meyer will leave the Mahoning Valley with a few more commitments, perhaps even for the 2013 class.