Crowd control emerges as major tourney concern

SIDELINES

March 10, 1996|By PAT O'MALLEY | PAT O'MALLEY,SUN STAFF

Aside from having both 4A Annapolis and 2A Southern eliminated in the state semifinals, a few more, important negatives marked this year's boys basketball tournament.

While the coaches are crying for the teams to be seeded in the open tournament, it might be time to seed the fans and throw out the bad ones. Crowd control has become a major concern.

First, we had the Broadneck at Edmondson of Baltimore "not open to the public" 3A East region quarterfinal. A gunfire incident at Edmondson before the playoffs prompted school officials to close the region contest to the respective student bodies in the interest of safety.

Thursday at Cole Field House, University of Maryland, the

conduct of the Northwestern of Prince George's County students and fans was appalling, and that may be an understatement.

After trashing the national anthem, the Northwestern group would later storm onto the court upon conclusion of the 71-64 Annapolis loss to the Wildcats.

It all started when everyone was asked to rise for the playing of the national anthem. While the anthem played, the Northwestern contingent shouted and laughed aloud. They were easily heard over the PA system.

"That was a disgrace," said North County teacher and former player and coach Dan Krimmelbein. Krimmelbein played at Cole and later coached there in the state playoffs at Andover High beginning in the late '60s and has been an annual visitor to the state playoffs.

"In all the years, I've gone down there, I've never seen anything that bad, " said Krimmelbein, referring not only to the pre-game display but to the post-game stampede onto the game floor.

Several times before the game ended, the PA announcer warned everyone that spectators are not allowed on the floor and violators could be arrested. Obviously the Northwestern contingent didn't take the warning seriously.

As soon as the game ended, the Northwestern group hurdled the railings and leaped over the players' chairs, roaring onto the court. A wild celebration ensued on the game floor with the Northwestern fans high-fiving their team and shouting obscenities across the floor at the Annapolis fans.

Annapolis coaches John Brady, Roy Brown and Tim Brown were stunned, as was a lone security guard in the middle of the raucous crowd. Imagine, this was just a semifinal win, not a state title.

"They jumped right over us and I nearly got an elbow in the nose a couple times as they went by," said Roy Brown.

The disorderly group returned to the stands after several pleas from the PA announcer.

Annapolis head coach Brady said what the state needs to do is suspend schools from the state tournament for a year or more when their fans carry on like that.

"That's the only way to stop it before they ruin a good thing at Maryland," said Brady, who is a Maryland grad and was told that Maryland officials were not too happy with the happenings.

Several years ago, Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) executive secretary Ned Sparks ordered metal detectors for the gates to Cole, and now may be considering metal bars for the fans.

Sparks was visibly upset with Thursday's incident and could only shake his head standing near the runway to the locker rooms. He planned to beef up security for the last two days.

The MPSSAA, in its state rules under general policies, asks each school "to feel a responsibility to anticipate whether or not a special school-wide assembly program emphasizing good spectator sportsmanship should be planned" before tournament games.

Gaels' AA connection

Three Severna Park residents -- freshman Chris Masters and sophomores Michael Floyd and Mark Texiera -- and 6-foot-6 freshman center Sean Johnson of Fort Meade, led the Mount St. Joseph JV basketball team to a perfect season.

The Anne Arundel quartet led the Gaels of coach Tony Martin to a 25-0 record, including a 10-point victory over Loyola in the Catholic League Tournament final.

From the vault

After an all-around score of 35.45 in the Teddy Bear Meet in Potomac, Md., 11-year-old Tara Lancaster of Severna Park has qualified for the state gymnastics meet later this month.

Trophy department

Bruce Sponsler, Old Mill's 10-year head coach, has been named Maryland Girls Soccer Coach of the Year ('95) by the National Federation Interscholastic Coaches Association. Sponsler led his Patriots to the Anne Arundel County championship by 1-0 over Severna Park in double overtime.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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