INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana High School Athletic Association said Tuesday that it has canceled the remaining games of two high school boys basketball teams and barred them from the state tournament after a brawl between the squads over the weekend.
The Hammond and Griffith high school basketball programs also will be placed on probation for the 2015-16 season and each of their basketball coaches and varsity athletes must complete courses on sportsmanship, said the IHSAA, which is the governing body for high school athletics in Indiana.
The announcement came in wake of the brawl between the two teams early in their game Saturday. The IHSAA declared that game a forfeit for both schools. The two schools in northwestern Indiana's Lake County also must pay $500 forfeiture fees to each hosting school remaining on their schedules for away games, the IHSAA said.
Griffith had six games remaining this season and Hammond had four.
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox announced the sanctions after he and Assistant Commissioners Phil Gardner and Sandra Walter met Tuesday morning with the schools' principals, athletic directors and basketball coaches.
"It's just an unfortunate situation," Hammond athletic director Larry Moore told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It's not what Hammond High is about. It's not what Griffith is about.
"We wish we could turn back the hands of time. We just feel bad," he said.
Griffith was leading 4-0 in the first quarter when a Hammond player shoved a Griffith player from behind as he tried to score and sent him headfirst into a mat hanging on the wall behind the basket inside the Griffith High gym. Players and coaches from both teams left their benches and rushed onto the floor, along with some spectators, and pushing, shoving and some punches were exchanged, the IHSAA said.
Officials called the game with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter. Griffith police were called to help restore order at the scene, the IHSAA said.
Cox told the Merrillville Post-Tribune he was disturbed by video of the brawl, calling it one of the "worst incidents I've seen."
"It's unacceptable, it's dangerous, it's uncalled for. Basketball is a game of emotions but you have to control those emotions," Cox said, adding that the teams are fortunate no one was seriously hurt.
Griffith Superintendent Peter Morikis issued a statement saying "the Griffith Public Schools Board of School Trustees and Administration support the IHSAA decision. We are committed to moving forward in a positive direction, and will work together on positive sportsmanship for all students."
Griffith coach Gary Hayes told the Post-Tribune there had been trash talk between the teams before the game.
"If I had known about some of the things that happened in warmups, I would've pulled the team off the floor," he said.