Coach disappointed to face team involved in basketball brawl

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A local high school basketball coach is disappointed with the team his players will take on for a state title.

This Saturday, Guerin Catholic High School will face Griffith High School, a team that at one point had its season indefinitely suspended after a fight broke out during a game last month.

Guerin Head Coach Pete Smith said he has nothing against the Griffith players or the school, he’s just upset because their punishment didn’t stick.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order against the IHSAA earlier this month, allowing Griffith to get back on the court just in time for the playoffs.

It was a foul that ignited a fight. Players from Griffith and Hammond High School started throwing punches. Then coaches and even fans from the stands spilled onto the court.

“That’s not right, look, that’s just inexcusable,” said Robert Owens as he watched a video of the fight.

He played basketball at Cardinal Ritter High School but Tuesday afternoon – he was shooting hoops with friends at Watkins Park.

Many others in the gym played high school basketball and had mixed emotions about the brawl.

“It’s not tolerable, you can’t do that kind of stuff you know,” he said.

“When you are playing in a game it’s so serious,” explained Demonie Johnson, sophomore at Northwest High School.

“I feel like both coaches should have kept their players under control,” said Tyrie Johnson, junior at North Central High School.

But even coaches know keeping players in control in the heat of the moment isn’t always possible.

“Kids make mistakes and you learn from them,” said Smith. “But I’m not sure they learn when they get to be able to play after a brawl that happens like that without any more repercussions than just what happened.”

Smith said his team is prepared no matter the opponent. But when they’re game-planning against a team that at one point lost its season after a fight, he worries sportsmanship is being tossed aside.

“This was a chance I think to really make a good statement and unfortunately a court up in Lake County overturned it and now they’re playing again,” he said.

It might not be the outcome he wanted, but if the players at Watkins Park wore Griffith jerseys, they’d want that shot to win it all.

“By both teams it was bad sportsmanship but I mean everybody deserves a second chance,” said Tyrie Johnson.

“It’s special to and those seniors on that team,” said Owens. “They deserve to be walk out with a state championship or the possibility to.”

We tried reaching out to the athletic department at Griffith High School but the office were closed.  Guerin and Griffith will play for the 3A state title at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m.