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"Can't we all just get along"

March 19, 2011
The High School Sports Show

Super 25 girls showdown ends prematurely after altercation

By Jim Halley, USA TODAY Email to a friend Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

The director of the National Christian School Athletic Association said a benches-clearing altercation in the title game of its girls basketball tournament in Erie, Pa., between Potters House Christian (Jacksonville) and Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) showed a case of misplaced values.

No punches were thrown, but Saturday's game was declared a double disqualification in the fourth quarter after arguments broke out with Potters House, No. 4 in the USA TODAY Super 25 rankings, leading No. 22 Riverdale Baptist 68-50.

"It's definitely the first time it has happened to us," said NCSAA director Nate Hartman. "We're just not recognizing a champion. As Christians we do believe that we bear the name of Christ. Obviously, behavior like this and actions like this are not in line with the spirit of the God whose name we bear. We should expect more of ourselves. I hope this is something that causes the schools and even the organization to ask how we could have done our role differently."

It was the second meeting this season of the teams. Potters House won 89-65 at home Nov. 20.

Potters House coach Tony Bannister said there was a lot of talking between teams and that Riverdale's players were being overly physical.

Riverdale Baptist coach Diane Richardson said both teams were being physical and that the altercation escalated after she criticized Bannister for making a comment toward a Riverdale player.

"I told him, 'Tony, that's going too far,' " Richardson said. "Then his wife cursed at me, and I told her that was no way for a minister to act. Then their daughter (Potters House player Antoinette Bannister) came at me, and people got in between and both benches emptied."

Hartman said the teams' rankings were a factor.

"What is very clear is that while the fourth quarter was going on, there was angry jawing back and forth between players," said Hartman. "You could hear coaches yelling at each other and even players. The position of the officials is it wasn't a safe game.

"I try not to go into who started the whole thing. It was a big, pressure-packed situation. For young kids at this age, competing for national championships and rankings and scouts, they think their basketball career is at stake. Anytime you raise the stakes to a place that is maybe just a little too high, we all have to evaluate whether we've elevated sports into a place that's too important in our life."

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