Farragut Career Academy, on the West Side of Chicago, gave the basketball world Kevin Garnett nearly a quarter-century ago.
North Lawndale, a school from one of Chicago’s most rough-and-tumble neighborhoods, sought to dethrone the Cradle of KG in the Illinois state 3A high school basketball tournament Friday night.
Between them, the two schools represented nearly one-seventh of the top 15 schools in the state, according to MaxPreps.
The stage was set for a Windy City showdown for the ages at North Lawndale.
Unfortunately, tempers flared, fists flew and what started with the promise of a competitive game turned into that rarest of rarities, a double forfeit, as both teams were disqualified from the tournament for their role in the melee.
NBC Sports Chicago reported that Donovan Jones of Farragut went up for a dunk, and on his way down, a North Lawndale player appeared to undercut him, sending Jones sprawling to the floor.
One of Jones’ teammates took umbrage, shoving the offending player, and a brawl ensued.
Farragut led 54-50 at the time of the fight with just a minute left in the game, but the game was called. The Illinois High School Association issued a statement meting out the fate to both squads.
“The conclusion of tonight’s IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Sectional Final at North Lawndale High School in Chicago between North Lawndale High School and Farragut Career Academy was marred by a fourth quarter fight involving players and fans from both schools,” the organization said. “The game was postponed while the gym was cleared of all spectators, and the teams were sent to their respective locker rooms. After speaking to game management and the game officials, the IHSA ruled the contest a double-forfeit and it was never concluded.
“No team will advance to Tuesday’s Super-Sectional game, and DePaul College Prep will advance to the Class 3A State Final field. These are never easy decisions to make, but we believe it is the correct one. It is vital that we continue to send the message that incidents like this at high school contests will not be tolerated. They are unacceptable in society, no less a high school sporting event.”
And while DePaul College Prep fans and boosters are certainly not going to complain about a free playoff bye, they were deprived of a chance to earn their way forward in honest competition.
Meanwhile, the incident touched off a bit of controversy on Twitter in Chicago. Some accused the IHSA of acting too hastily and without due consideration …
I saw. There was a fight b/t Farragut and North Lawndale with a minute left. Farragut was up 54-50 & 1 of its players was undercut while on the rim. An immediate fight ensued. @IHSA_IL unfairly disqualified both teams quickly after. Allegedly no investigation, no review of video.
— Paul Honeycutt (@HP62315) March 10, 2019
… while others praised the organization for moving decisively to send a message that violence on the court will not be tolerated.
More to it what I read. Good for @IHSA_IL for taking swift actions w all things priorly considered.
— FlyTheW (@2016WSCHAMPS) March 10, 2019
It also comes as tempers are flaring at the NBA level in both Cleveland (where Serge Ibaka of the Raptors choked and punched the Cavaliers’ Marquese Chriss) and Salt Lake City (where Russell Westbrook of the Thunder threatened a Jazz fan and his wife for making what Westbrook said were racist comments during the game).
Whether fans believe the IHSA acted too hastily or whether the organization simply did what was necessary to punish a breakdown in civility at a basketball game, DePaul Prep is now just two games away from a state championship rather than three.
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