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Brawl in stands at Wyandanch High School leads to suspension of game

Spectators leave the Wyandanch High School gymnasium after

Spectators leave the Wyandanch High School gymnasium after a brawl in the stands Monday led to the suspension of a boy's basketball game between Amityville and Wyandanch. Credit: James Escher

A brawl in the stands during halftime at a Wyandanch High School boys basketball game on Monday led officials to suspend the contest after Suffolk police officers were unable to clear the gymnasium so play could resume.

Wyandanch principal Paul Sibblies said no students from Amityville or Wyandanch high schools — the teams competing — initiated the melee. He said Wyandanch community members ignited the fight. Video of the brawl will be reviewed to identify the combatants, who will be barred from attending games at the high school, Sibblies said.

There were no arrests, Suffolk police said.

“These things happen. It wasn’t the kids from my school. I want that to be clear, all right?” Sibblies said. “There were some outside spectators that came in here and started this ruckus at the game today. After this game, they won’t be allowed here anymore.”

He said the players are upset not only because the game wasn’t completed but “because . . . they’re taking a hit for what these guys from outside came and did.”

It was the second time in two years that violence has broken out at a Wyandanch boys basketball game.

“We’re very disappointed,” Wyandanch school board president Shirley Baker said. “We know it wasn’t students, but we also know it’s going to reflect on the students.”

Last January, when Mount Sinai High School visited Wyandanch for a boys basketball game, a brawl broke out on the court shortly after the game ended that involved between 15 to 20 people, including spectators. One person was arrested.

In that case, Baker said, the boys basketball team played its next two games with no spectators. Spectators were allowed to attend subsequent Wyandanch games to avoid the appearance that the team was being penalized, Baker said.

Amityville led Wyandanch 40-35 at halftime in front of a near-capacity crowd on Monday and both teams were in their locker rooms when the fight broke out.

School security officers tried to halt the melee. Ultimately, Suffolk police arrived on the scene and removed the combatants from the building. Suffolk police said in their statement that they were called at 5:09 p.m. to respond to a “physical altercation between adult fans of Wyandanch High School” and “security asked Suffolk County Police officers to escort the men out of the building.”

The teams returned to the court about 35 minutes after what was supposed to be a 10-minute intermission. The stands still were about half-full and emotions remained high. Game officials and Sibblies agreed that all spectators should exit so the game could continue, but some of the fans refused police orders to leave.

At that point, the game officials declared the game suspended because of what was termed “safety issues,” according to Wyandanch boys basketball coach Barry Baker Jr. He said how and when the game will be completed will be decided by Section XI officials.

“I really feel for our players,” he said. “This is not their fault.”

Amityville coach Gordon Thomas described the situation as “ridiculous” and added, “Everyone loses when something like this happens.”

Sibblies and Shirley Baker both said they will consider whether to reinstitute a policy of not allowing spectators at Wyandanch boys basketball games.

“My overall goal and expectation, as always, is that this is a family event,” Sibblies said, “and anyone that . . . wants to come and be a spectator here at Wyandanch High School needs to understand that this is a family affair and the safety and welfare of everyone must be the number one priority.”

With Antonio Planas

  

  

  

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