PIAA Basketball Playoffs: Fight erupts following contest

Players battle after Jeannette victory

Sunday, March 09, 2008

By Mike White, Pittsburgh post-Gazette
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette

Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor drives against North Catholic in yesterday's Class AA quarterfinal at Hempfield High School.

The playing status of some players on the Jeannette High School boys' basketball team could be in jeopardy for Wednesday's PIAA semifinals because of their part in a fight between the Jayhawks and North Catholic after yesterday's playoff game at Hempfield High School.

Jeannette won the Class AA quarterfinal, 86-60, and the fight occurred in a hallway near the North Catholic locker room. The WPIAL will hold a hearing Tuesday with all parties involved in the incident, and WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley acknowledged some of Jeannette's players could face disciplinary action that might affect their status for Wednesday's PIAA Class AA semifinal game.

North Catholic's players also could face penalties, but North Catholic's season is over.

O'Malley was not at the game, but said, "Clearly what has been reported to have taken place is totally unacceptable and outside what is involved in sportsmanship. Might there be consequences?

Absolutely. What they might be, I don't know. That will be up to our board of control."

O'Malley said both schools have been asked to investigate the incident and to report their findings to the WPIAL, preferably tomorrow.

Jeannette star Terrelle Pryor was one of many players involved in the fight, although Hempfield assistant coach Rob Stauffer, who was escorting North Catholic to the locker room, told state police he held Pryor back during the altercation. Numerous players from both teams also were involved and police were on the scene after the game investigating the incident. Police said last night the incident, so far, is being treated as a disturbance and no criminal charges have been filed.

North Catholic coach Dave Long claimed Jeannette's team came at his team in a hallway near the North Catholic locker room shortly after the game. He was yelling to police in the hallway after the incident.

Long acknowledged some things said on the court by players during the game and in the handshake line might have played a part in the fight.

"Obviously, there were some exceptions to some things that were said upstairs [during the game and in the handshake line]," Long said. "Obviously, you're dealing with 18-year-olds who are highly emotional. It wasn't a pretty scene."

Pryor said Joe Long, the son of North Catholic's coach and a junior forward, called him a name in the handshake line. Pryor was visibly upset and was held back by teammates from going toward North Catholic's team.

Pryor also said the fight started after a North Catholic player "said some things to us" while Jeannette's team was walking to its locker room in the bottom level of Hempfield's gymnasium. Pryor said other Jeannette players claimed a North Catholic player used a racial slur.

Jeannette coach Jim Nesser had no comment on the incident.

A few North Catholic players had bruises on their heads and faces. Dave Long said a few players might need stitches. Pryor said a few Jeannette players also were cut.

"We didn't start this," Pryor said.

Jeannette will play in the semifinals Wednesday against the winner of today's game between North East and Farrell.

As for the North Catholic game, Jeannette took early leads of 9-0 and 19-5. North Catholic got the margin to less than 10 points a few times after that, but never seriously threatened.

Jeannette had a tremendous shooting game, making 65 percent of its field-goal attempts (26 for 40) through the first three-and-a-half quarters. The Jayhawks were also 8 for 10 from 3-point range during that time.

"We haven't been beaten like this the entire season. That was a good, old-fashioned whooping," Dave Long said. "I have nothing but compliments for Jeannette as a very athletic, skilled team. And compliments for my own players for trying their best just to stay in the game."

Pryor and senior forward Shaw Sunder had 21 points apiece and junior guard Jordan Hall added 19. Both Sunder and Hall had four 3-pointers.

"We're more than Terrelle Pryor and we've been playing like that all year," Nesser said. "All of our kids have been making plays all year."

Pryor had six rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three dunks.

Center Henry Pwono led North Catholic with 22 points, making 11 of 16 shots from the field.
"In all fairness to Jeannette, whether they had a good shooting night, a great shooting night or an average shooting night, they are going to beat 99 out of 100 teams regardless of how they shoot from the field," Dave Long said.

First published on March 9, 2008 at 12:00 am