By the end of a basketball match-up between Monessen and Clairton High Schools on Tuesday night, multiple fights had broken out between players, parents, and fans resulting in an all-out brawl. Police were on hand and eventually got the situation under control, but administrators are calling for stiff penalties on everyone involved.
Tim O’Malley, who serves as the executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL), called the massive altercation “totally unacceptable,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He expects serious action to be taken to hold both teams accountable.
“We’ve reached out to both schools and the officials for their response to what occurred,” O’Malley told the Post-Gazette. “Our board [of directors] is going to have [to] sit and look at what we’re going to do. What occurred is totally unacceptable. It has no place in high school athletics.”
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The director has only seen video posted on social media and is reserving judgment until after Monday’s hearing with the WPIAL board, coaches, and administrators from both Monessen and Clairton. But what O’Malley saw was deplorable enough to warrant swift action.
Both teams were being highly-competitive in spite of having already qualified for post-season play. The physical play of both teams escalated into a fist fight between two players right in front of Monessen’s bench. That’s when the stands started to clear and punches were being thrown. There were even adults caught on video fighting with some of the players.
Eric Fusco, father of Clairton guard Khori Fusco, quickly got his son out of harm’s way. The former Clairton assistant football coach shared his insights into the “unfortunate” incident.
“The game was chippy from the start, but I didn’t think this was going to happen,” Fusco said. “People have said they should ban both teams from the playoffs. I don’t think that’s going to solve anything. I think the fans are way more guilty than the players. You can’t hold players responsible for what fans do.”
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After the situation was finally diffused, Monessen was declared the winner with a final score of 54-45. While it is unlikely that either team will be disqualified from the playoffs, there will be a high price to pay for what has happened here.