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Ex-Wyandanch athlete arrested in game melee

A fight that broke out during the Long

A fight that broke out during the Long Island Championships at the Bay Shore High School gym during the Malverne vs. Wyandanch game, halting the game for 20 minutes with 1:03 remaining. (March 9, 2010) Credit: Photo by Bobby Cassidy

A former Wyandanch student athlete was arrested Wednesday and charged with slashing the father of a Wyandanch basketball player during a melee in the stands at a championship basketball game between Wyandanch and Malverne high schools.

Joel Foster, a 2007 scholarship recipient at Wyandanch for football, was charged with second-degree assault, police said.

Foster, 21, of West Babylon, was involved in a brawl in the stands shortly before the end of the game and police said he used a bladed weapon to slash George Pinckney, 44. Pinckney, who received 14 stitches to close the wound near his right ear, is the father of one of the Wyandanch players.

The brawl in the stands forced the evacuation of the gym, and when the game resumed 20 minutes later, the once-packed gym was almost empty of spectators.

Wyandanch Athletic Director Kenneth McCloud said, "Both teams played hard. It's not their fault that their moment was overshadowed. I felt terrible for Malverne because that altercation put a damper on their kids winning the Long Island championship."

The basketball game, held Tuesday night at Bay Shore High School, was at least the second high school contest this year to be interrupted - and later finished in an empty gym.

Officials overseeing high school sports in Suffolk County said the fight Tuesday "was an isolated incident" and did not warrant a further security review.

Ed Cinelli, executive director of athletics for New York State Public High School Athletic Association Section XI, which oversees Suffolk County, said security "did an outstanding job" defusing the situation.

"We put people in place for these events and the system worked," he said.

The Bay Shore fight appeared to start when two groups of Wyandanch fans and relatives of a Wyandanch senior guard became involved in an off-court altercation, police said Wednesday. During a timeout, the player raced across the court to join the fray, police said. He had to be wrestled to the ground by three adults and escorted from the gymnasium. Police were called in to calm the situation and disperse the crowd.

The Wyandanch player is suspended through Friday, Wyandanch school officials said.

Nassau schools have also handled brawls that suspended games, such as a December 2008 case in which police said a Roslyn High School teacher was bitten after fans rushed the court.

Todd Heimer, executive director of Section VIII, which covers Nassau, said security officials "made the right call by clearing the gym and finishing the game" after the Bay Shore incident.

With Bob Herzog, John Valenti and Sophia Chang

Click here to see photos of other high school playoff games

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