December 24, 2012 | 02:14 PMThe biggest story of 2012 was also the most controversial.
East Troy boys basketball coach Daryl Rayfield, a Lake Geneva native, made state and national news thanks to a show of unsportsmanlike conduct back in a February game at Big Foot.
The Trojans, one of the state's top teams at the time, beat the Chiefs, 116-40, and were up by at least 50 points by the half. What happened in the second half helped my column become the sixth-most read story of the year on www.lakegenevanews.net with a whopping 2,825 page views.
Also, national websites such as the The Big Lead and wissports.net picked up the story, which sparked heated debates all over the webisphere. Fox Sports Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Journal were among state media outlets that interviewed Rayfield and ran their own versions of the story.
Here's an excerpt from the original story, which ran in the Feb. 9 edition:
(Big Foot Athletic Director Tim) Collins was passionate about his position that East Troy inappropriately ran up the score. In fact, it was by far the most heated I've heard a coach in my three years as Sports editor.
"I've been involved with the Rock Valley Conference for 34 years as a player, coach and athletic director, and I've never seen a worse display of sportsmanship in the history of the conference," Collins said Feb. 5 in a frenzy.
Collins said the Trojans were up by 78 points in the fourth quarter and continued to full-court press. Also, they played their starters until two minutes left in the game despite taking a 50-point lead at the half. At one point in the third quarter, Collins yelled at East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield and said, "What are you doing?" Collins said fans were stunned and couldn't believe what they were seeing.
Over the weekend, Collins received numerous e-mails portraying the disgust of concerned parents and community members. Sadly, the East Troy players had to apologize after the game for the absolute beating they laid on the Chiefs.
Rayfield stood by his actions.
"We play a rotation of five or six kids," Rayfield said. "We are not blessed with depth. At some point, our guys have to play a full game. I need our guys to be tested with fatigue and play a full game at a high pace. I couldn't hold back. It doesn't get us where we need to be."
Rayfield said he played seven kids in the Big Foot game, but he left two freshmen on the bench in case someone fouled out. Furthermore, Rayfield said his team won, 88-36, two nights prior, and everyone played in that game.
Rayfield realized it could have been taken as running up the score, and he said it wasn't personal.
"Big Foot is a big part of our conference," he said. "They were just the next team on our schedule we were going to get ready for the tournament against. There was no harm intended and no bad feelings."
The column went on to spawn another blog where I talked to the East Troy Athletic Director. She basically defended Rayfield's actions and claimed feedback was both positive and negative toward the coach.
Parents thanked me for my column at some area sporting events, but I also was criticized for writing such a controversial story.
East Troy went on to lose in the Division 3 playoffs, and they are currently undefeated this season and ranked second in the state in Division 3.
East Troy hosts Big Foot Thursday, Jan. 10, so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out.