This is the Chicago Public School team that was forced to forfeit the city championship when some players were found to be academically ineligible. But in the state regional semifinals Tuesday night, DuSable High School came out on top.
Curie had a commanding lead as late as the third quarter, but in the end, it wasn't enough. Players and coaches now left wonder if those off-court distractions were at least partly to blame.
It was a stunning end to a season of highs and lows. Top-ranked Curie High School was defeated in overtime by DuSable. The 88-85 loss left some Curie players in tears.
"They should've won this game, but with so much pressure and so much tension in here, it just wasn't right," said Mike Goldsmith, parent of Curie student.
CPS said administrators had failed to submit required paperwork for players with low GPAs.
"It's a lot of blame to go around. You can't just point at the kids. It's a lot of blame," said Robert Mapp, parent of Curie student.
But on Monday, the Illinois High School Association said Curie could compete in the state tournament. The IHSA uses different academic criteria than CPS to decide eligibility, and the decision was controversial.
"Evidently education is not top priority, and it should be in all these sports, especially on the IHSA level," said Fred Arnold, CPS parent.
On Tuesday, CPS lifted its suspension of Curie coach Mike Oliver, but the team was not at full strength. At least two starting players still ineligible under IHSA rules.
Star forward Cliff Alexander did play and was formidable. But it was not Curie's night.
"It's not just the kids' responsibility. It's the administrators and the educators that are in that position that should step up to the plate and confess to the things that weren't done right," said Goldsmith.
Curie officially entered this game with a record of 0-25 after it was forced by CPS to forfeit all of its regular season games, a winless season for what was the No. 2 ranked team in the country.