Lamar basketball: An unfortunate ending
By Don Gearhart
Sport is a beautiful thing for high schoolers wanting to compete for their teams colors. It can be a rewarding experience for players, coaches, administrators, parents, and fans. Sportsmanship is even more important, but much more difficult to control. As a witness to the best and worst of both is a travesty.
What started as a girls / boys varsity double-header between the host Lamar Silver Foxes and the visiting Lake City Panthers, ended in an empty gym. Oh, there was basketball played. The Lady Panthers jumped to an early 7-2 lead with only Lamar’s Myasia Stephens able to dent the scoreboard for the Lady Silver Foxes and Lake City ended the first period with an 11-6 advantage.
Lake City controlled the boards on both ends of the court with an 8-10 inch height advantage and nearly 70 pound weight advantage from their twin inside players. Lamar chipped away at the lead midway through the second period thanks to Stephens and Harmony Daniels. That was enough to keep the game within reach at the intermission although the Lady Panthers maintained a five-point advantage at 19-14.
The third period was all Lake City who pounded the ball inside to take a 27-16 lead with 3:03 left in the quarter. That lead jumped to 34-18 with a minute left on the clock.
That’s when sportsmanship dissolved. With 0:14 left, Lamar attempted to inbound a pass in the corner on their side of the court. From this writer’s view, it was difficult to see what initially transpired, but a shoving match between players escalated into an all-out melee. As coaches, officials, and administrators attempted to separate the two teams, a spectator left the bleachers, grabbed a Lake City player by the neck and body-slammed her to the floor. Both teams then exited the gym and it became obvious that the game would not continue. The reaction from the spectators was just as appalling as the unfortunate happenings on the court.
In any competition, there are bound to be emotions. Pride and frustration can certainly be understood. These can usually be controlled by the actions of officials and coaches. What is reprehensible is the action of people not actually involved in the contest. For a spectator to enter the field of play and attack a player is unacceptable and cannot be condoned.
This unfortunate incident had even further-reaching consequences as it was decided that the boys game would also be cancelled due to an already hostile environment. What could have been a glorious night of high school athletics was cut short and that is a shame.