Order was restored before 'ugly' situation got worse

SIDELINES

March 05, 1995|By PAT O'MALLEY

What happened at Broadneck High School was bad enough, but what could have happened would have been much worse had not cooler heads prevailed Friday night.

Broadneck and Arundel won their boys basketball region titles, Arundel the 4A East over Northern-Calvert, 85-74, and Broadneck over Douglass-Baltimore, 92-53, for the 3A East.

Unfortunately, an ugly incident at Broadneck could have resulted in an even uglier situation at Arundel. A melee broke out in Cape St. Claire with fans rushing onto the floor and players from both teams and Douglass coach John Nash having to be restrained.

It took 15 Anne Arundel County police officers to restore order. All the officers at the Arundel game in Gambrills left for Broadneck, and no police were at Arundel through much of the second half.

Fortunately, there was not an incident during the intense Arundel-Northern game in front of the largest crowd (capacity of more than 1,100) to watch a basketball game there.

Sending the additional officers to Broadneck was a gamble the county police had to take.

"It's the worst I've seen in 25 years," said Broadneck assistant athletic director Tim McMullen, a Mount St. Joseph High grad. "The last time I saw anything as bad was 1964 at Morgan State when St. Joe played Dunbar in the MSA finals. I was scared during that riot and was very scared Friday."

Old Mill's veteran athletic director Jim Dillon, who is acting county coordinator of physical education while Rick Wiles is on medical leave, attended the game at Broadneck.

"It was kind of ugly. I've never seen a high school game where there was such an obvious attempt to get you one way, if they can't get you another," said Dillon, referring to Douglass' extremely physical play that resulted in three Ducks being ejected.

"Controlling the players is essential, and if as coach you don't have control, things can get out of hand in a hurry."

They did right after Lamar Prilliman of Douglass floored Eric Elston, then later took a swing at Elston with about 1:50 left in the third period.

Eric's father, Ernest, who moved to a front-row seat when the Bruins' Johnny Williams took a shot in the nose from Prilliman in the first half, charged onto the floor and had to be restrained by Broadneck officials.

"My boy just had six stitches over his right eye last week and when Prilliman punched him there again, I had enough," said Ernest Elston. "I went over to Nash to inform him that I would protect my son and I'm a black belt, and he had better not get hurt.

"I told Prilliman and the rest of their players to stop acting like bums and play basketball. Nash had no control over them, and just a year ago, I went over and shook his hand after they beat us at the buzzer."

Elston also said his going onto the floor "got a lot of people mad at me."

Nash, who said Elston threatened him, said, "He was wrong as two left feet for coming onto the floor and can't possibly justify his actions.

"He took a swing at Prilliman. How's he going to protect his son? All hell broke loose when he came out on the floor."

Elston denied he tried to hit Prilliman.

Nash said he and his players were "mistreated by everybody down there, including the police who grabbed me when I was trying to keep my kids out of the melee.

"I'm quite perturbed that they made us look like the culprits."

Nash apologized to Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek and to one of the Bruins because "one of my kids threw a basketball at him and I don't tolerate that. If I was coaching again [he's retiring after 25 seasons], I wouldn't have that kid on my team."

The Broadneck players showed remarkable restraint as Douglass was charged with four technicals, two intentional fouls and one flagrant violation.

Play resumed after a 15-minute delay with Broadneck leading 56-36. Kazmarek said Nash did "a good job" keeping his players under control the rest of the way.

"When we went back to our locker room [after the fight broke out] Coach Kazmarek told us that we had to come out and play ball and not worry about the other team," said senior Jason Smith.

When the game ended, the trophy presentation was put on hold with the Broadneck fans advised to stay in their seats and the Bruins taken to their locker room. McMullen and staff escorted the Douglass team and its 25 fans out of the gym.

"We did the smart thing, and after they left, the kids came back out and cut down the nets with the fans coming down on the floor," said McMullen.

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