Oakland Mills bows out of tourney due to earlier attack on opponent Linganore player punched while leaving gym after Dec. 21 loss to Scorpions

January 03, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Oakland Mills' boys basketball team did not participate in a Dec. 26-27 tournament at Thomas Johnson High School because of an attack upon a Linganore basketball player after a Dec. 21 game at Oakland Mills.

The Scorpions were scheduled to play Linganore again in the opening game of the tournament on Dec. 26.

"It was a safety factor," Oakland Mills principal Marshall Peterson said. "And safety is a priority. I spent all day Friday [Dec. 22] investigating the incident, and a decision [not to play] was easy to achieve."

Sergeant Steven E. Keller, an information officer for the Howard County Police Department, said a police report identifies the victim as a 17-year-old Linganore student and basketball player. The victim was walking down a hallway toward his bus with several teammates after an 87-68 loss to Oakland Mills when he was attacked.

A suspect allegedly ran up to the victim and punched him in the mouth, dislodging a tooth. The victim also suffered abrasions on his lip and chin, said the report.

"This is not just regrettable, it's deplorable," Peterson said. "It's everything that should not be. It was a plain assault. This was a good athlete who has lost one tooth [upper middle] and may lose another. We have no information to say that the attack was provoked in any way."

Police originally charged a 17-year-old Oakland Mills student with one count of battery after eyewitnesses from Linganore identified a suspect from the school yearbook.

Peterson said the wrong person was charged, however.

"We have [Oakland Mills] kids who saw the punch, and they charged the wrong person," Peterson said yesterday. "The one who [allegedly] did it was a 19-year-old former student. He was treated at Howard County General for a broken hand and admitted to an officer that he had done it."

As of yesterday afternoon, police were continuing the investigation, Keller said.

Peterson said that no Oakland Mills basketball players were involved.

"[Linganore] took more time than most people to leave. It helps security if they leave quickly while there is still a crowd around," Peterson said. "The crowd had gone, but administrators and security people were still in the building for a school play."

The police report said the assault occurred between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. The game began at 6:30 p.m.

Peterson said the victim also played wide receiver for Linganore's football team. Linganore defeated Oakland Mills twice during the 1995 season, including in the state quarterfinals when Linganore rallied from a 21-0 deficit with eight minutes to play, and won, 24-21.

Linganore principal Michael Trout did not return several phone calls yesterday.

"We're all disappointed," Oakland Mills basketball coach Dave Appleby said. "I feel sorry for the Linganore player, and we hope something like this never happens again."

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