Two Youth Basketball Teams Suspended After Brawl

Players, Parents, Fans In Post-game Fight

March 01, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Two youth league girls basketball teams have been suspended following a post-game brawl involving players, parents and fans, during whicha 12-year-old player was attacked.

Angela Hartman, whose daughterStephanie plays forward for the Glen Burnie-based Gridiron Rebels, said 10 players from the Maryland City Mustangs ganged up on her daughter after the game last Saturday and beat her in a hallway at MagothyMiddle School.

Hartman acknowledges that her daughter spat at a boisterous Maryland City fan -- apparently touching off the post-game brawl. But Hartman said that does not excuse the attack and is threatening to sue the county to get the names of the Mustangs in order to pursue criminalcharges.

She also believes officials overreacted in suspending both teams.

"My daughter was not right in what she did," Hartman said. "I think she realizes that. But if they are using that as a basis for suspending the team, I disagree."

Hartman said Stephanie was treated by her family doctor. She said the doctor told her Stephanie may have received a concussion.

County police also are conducting acriminal investigation. "An assault occurred," said Eastern DistrictSgt. Emerson Davis. "Hopefully, we can make an arrest."

But trying to determine what happened at the game, which Maryland City won, 17-9, and which was nearly stopped several times because of rough play and unruly fans, is not easy.

"It is very difficult to reconstructit several days later," said Don Ruland, recreation superintendent for the county Recreation and Parks Department, which sponsors the league. "It was not a pretty scene."

And Stephanie may not be the only person injured. The chairman of the Maryland City Recreation Council said one of his players received several stitches after being knocked down, scratched and hit in the face by an adult.

About the onlything anyone can agree on is that the rough game undermined the intent of the county-sponsored program, which involves teams from more than 50 youth organizations.

Officials are wondering how a basketball game between young teen-agers could have gotten so out of hand.

"Nobody is going to remember the score of last Saturday's game," saidLance H. Sweigart, chairman of the Maryland City Recreational Council. "They are only going to remember that it got ugly. They are only going to remember that someone got hurt.

"I don't know how we are going to stop it. And that's the worst part of all. I can see it happening again."

Ruland said he supports the decision of his supervisor for girls basketball, Lisa DiGiacinto, to suspend both teams for the remaining three weeks of the season.

Rebels head coach Dave Lanham said the players from Maryland City who participated in the scuffle should be punished, along with his own player, Stephanie, for instigating the fight. But he said it is unfair to suspend his entire team.

Vikki King, director of girls basketball for the Rebels, said the county's decision was unfair, but said she understands the reasoning.

"When you win, you win as a team," she said. "When you lose, you lose as a team. When you have one kid who does something, you have to pay for the consequences as a team. In my own opinion, maybe (Stephanie) provoked it." Both sides blame the officials, Joseph C. Yancy Jr. and Brian Propst, accusing them of losing control by not calling technical fouls. The officials said they didn't call technicals for fear "a bad situation would only get worse."

Last Saturday was the first time the two teams faced each other.

Officials called 31 fouls in the game, 19 against Maryland City and 12 against Glen Burnie. Stephanie fouled out of the game, collecting three fouls in two minutes in the fourth quarter "for her violent, over-aggressive behavior,"according to a report filed by the referee.

A report filed by thecounty league supervisor, Debbie Tripp, also says an 11-year-old Maryland City fan contributed to the tense afternoon. The report says the boy was repeatedly warned to quiet down.

Referee Yancy said in his report that he was accosted by coaches from Glen Burnie and fans as soon as the final whistle blew. Lanham said the referees overstatedthe situation, that he only told them they called a poor game.

"We were told that we stunk, smelled bad, didn't know what we were doing," the report says. "We told them to go home repeatedly. This continued for about two minutes. During that time, parents also came out ofthe stands and began yelling at us. One lady could have out-cursed any sailor I know."

The altercation in the hallway began after the game, while players were shaking hands on the court. Hartman said herdaughter and the 11-year-old boy from Maryland City got into an argument. "They exchanged a few words," Hartman said. "She spit at him."

Later, in the hallway, the boy retaliated, spit at Stephanie and ran away, Hartman said, adding that the boy's mother grabbed Stephaniefrom behind and spun her around.

"My daughter pushed the woman off of her," Hartman said. "The Maryland City team then ganged up on mydaughter and knocked her to the ground. They were all standing around her. The majority of them were actually beating my daughter. The mother was doing nothing to stop it."

After coming to her daughter'said, Hartman said she asked the custodian to call county police, whoarrived after the Maryland City team had left. An officer told her that she would have to get the names and addresses of the opposing team before charges could be filed.

The Recreation and Parks Department said it turned Hartman's request over to its legal department. Assistant County Attorney Michele Dane said she will make a decision after the police finish investigating.

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