GREENFIELD — The action became overheated at McClain High School Friday night in a long-time rivalry game between the Tigers and the Washington Blue Lions, coming out of a time out with two minutes to play in the game and the Blue Lions holding a 50-49 lead.
As the teams returned to the floor following the break, an altercation broke out between the two teams.
Suddenly players rushed onto the floor from the benches. It appeared that punches were thrown, or at least swings were taken.
The game was delayed approximately 20 minutes as the public address announcer tried to calm the crowd and urged fans to stay in the bleachers and stay off the floor.
The action was heated even before the altercation that halted the game.
Washington was called for a technical four in the second quarter, causing one of their players to be benched.
This player came back into the game after the altercation, as a different Blue Lion player was called for a technical foul, which happened to be his fifth of the game.
McClain made two free throws with 1:58 to play to take a 51-50 lead.
After a Blue Lion miss, McClain scored again to make it 53-50 with 1:24 to play.
Blue Lion sophomore John Wall hit a three-point field goal tying the game, 53-53.
McClain went down and missed a shot and Washington got the rebound. However, the ball was taken away by a McClain player who scored to make it 55-53.
There was a third occasion when a technical foul was called on Washington with 17 seconds to play.
The Tigers missed both foul shots, but made both technical throws to make it 57-53.
Washington fouled, with McClain making 2 of 2 to make it 59-53.
As time was winding down, a McClain player took the ball to the basket for an uncontested lay-up to put the final at 61-53.
The difference in the game came in the form of offensive rebounds and second-chance buckets for McClain and the discrepancy at the free throw line.
McClain made 22 of 28 shots from the line for 79 percent. Washington made 3 of 5 from the line for 60 percent.
“I honestly have no idea what happened,” Washington head coach Shannon Bartruff said when asked about the altercation. “The may-lay, whatever you want to call it. I’ve never seen anything like that in a high school basketball game in my life.
“We didn’t handle our composure well enough,” Bartruff said. “I don’t want to talk about anything else that happened because honestly I have no idea what happened. We had one player who got ejected that I saw get punched by an adult. But, he was the one who got ejected.
“I know it wasn’t an easy situation for the officials,” Bartruff said. “I hate to see a basketball game that we had multiple opportunities to win come down to technicals and free throws, but that’s what happened. We gave the game away.
“Our kids fought hard enough to win that basketball game,” Bartruff said. “But, at the end of the day, we beat ourselves. We made some selfish plays coming down the stretch. We had technical fouls that cost us probably 10 to 12 points in the game and we get beat by eight on a lay-up at the end when the game was over.
“Our kids’ effort was great,” Bartruff said. “Reico (Colter) played a great game (leading all scorers with 28 points). John Wall gutted his way through with an injury he’s been battling for the last two days. Raleigh (Haithcock) gave us some great minutes. Tanner (Lemaster) battled his butt off. He normally had two or three guys on him, at least.
“Micah Brown stepped up and played good for us,” Bartruff said. “It was a great basketball game between two really good teams. You hate to see it unfold the way it did.”
“There is so much to look at in this game and be grateful for,” McClain head coach Joe B. Stewart said. “Our defensive effort, I thought, from start to finish, was really, really good. Reico had 19 at the half, but those points were all contested. We slowed him down a little in the second half, but he’s a heck of a basketball player.
“In our game Tuesday night, we just couldn’t seem to make free throws to close out the game,” Stewart said. “Right after that game, I told them, ‘okay’, we’re shooting free throws at 7:15 in the morning’. Not a single kid rolled his eyes or blinked. Our free throws tonight really closed this game out.
“At the half, we were up eight on them in rebounds and the second half looked an awful lot like the first,” Stewart said.
Stewart was asked for his thoughts on the altercation.
“Beyond who did what, we had good kids at Court House, good kids at McClain,” Stewart said. “They were all just playing their guts out. It mattered. This is a result that mattered to every single kid on the floor.
“I give Washington Court House’s coaching staff a big thumbs up,” Stewart said. “They were really, really helpful with their kids. When emotions boil over, it’s one of those things that does indeed happen. We need to learn from each situation.”
McClain improves to 5-1 in the FAC.
Washington falls to 2-4 in the conference.
Elsewhere in the FAC Friday, Jackson hosted Miami Trace and won that game, 59-46.
Jackson is now 3-3 in the FAC, with the Panthers going to 2-5.
The game between Hillsboro (3-3) and Chillicothe (3-2) was postponed.
The Blue Lions are scheduled to host Fairfield Union Wednesday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 9 14 12 18 — 53
Mc 9 12 19 21 — 61
WASHINGTON — Reico Colter 7 (4)-2-28; John Wall 1 (1)-0-5; Raleigh Haithcock 1 (1)-0-5; Troy Thompson 0-0-0; Micah Brown 1-0-2; Tanner Lemaster 4-1-9; Isaiah Haithcock 2-0-4. TOTALS — 16 (6)-3-53. Free throw shooting: 3 of 5 for 60 percent. Field goal shooting: 22 of 46 for 48 percent. Turnovers: 7.
McCLAIN — Preston Saunders 2-1-5; Bryson Badgley 5-9-19; Evann Mischal 0 (1)-0-3; Seth Wise 2-0-4; Braden Wright 1-1-3; Kendall Toney 7-8-22; Wesley Potts 1-3-5. TOTALS — 19 (1)-22-61. Free throw shooting: 22 of 28 for 79 percent. Field goal shooting: 20 of 54 for 37 percent. Turnovers: 6.