The basketball home opener – a one-point win for Shaker — culminated in a parking-lot fight and two arrests. To top it off, LeBron James was not in attendance, despite rumors that he would be.
Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson, the administrator assigned to the basketball game, said that the fight after the game overshadowed the amazing players. “With a spirited, diverse crowd. . . you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We want to have good, clean fun.”
Hutchinson continued to say that although the incident was “embarrassing for our school, we don’t need to be ashamed of what happened.”
Senior point guard Terry Rozier explained that the atmosphere at the basketball game was similar to that of a college arena. “Fan behavior was wild but positive for the most part. When we first came out of the locker room onto the court, the view was amazing,” he said. “We need more games like Friday’s, because we play off the fan’s energy.”
Although Rozier could not tell that anyone was under the influence, he said, “Don’t come to our games under the influence, because we don’t want more people getting into trouble.”
Junior power forward Kash Blackwell agreed. “We just want our fans to come support us for the rest of the season,” he said.
Rumors were flying regarding the fight after the game and the subsequent police involvement. “At the basketball game, I heard about the police bringing out K9s, and people getting bitten by dogs and stuff,” senior Jeremy Allen said.
Principal Michael Griffith, who appeared in “Wonderful Town” as a police officer, was in the back of the Large Auditorium when the fight occurred and heard it through the loading/unloading door backstage. “When I heard a dog bark, I knew something was wrong,” he said. “It just sounded off.” However, Griffith was in the middle of a performance. “I knew I had 10 minutes just to figure out what was going on,” before intermission was over. By the time Griffith went outside, the police had already handled the situation.
Sophomore Asia Sparks was bitten by a police dog as she stood in the parking lot after the basketball game. “I walked outside, and these two boys were getting ready to fight, and everybody was crowded around me,” she said. “Everybody was pushing and shoving to see the fight.”
“I was standing in the parking lot. . . police were trying to break up the fight, police got pushed and next thing you know I was standing there and I got bit by a dog,” Sparks said. “I didn’t see the dog and I didn’t hear any orders for me to move or anything. The dog bit me then the cop didn’t do anything.”
Sparks said that she blacked out and was hospitalized for about two hours as a result of the dog bite to her leg. “I got crutches and I’m limping, but I’m cool though,” she said.
Senior Kristen Amaddio, who played in the pit during the musical, said that Griffith went outside during intermission and found out what was going on after the game. “He was definitely handling it really well. He wasn’t freaking out or anything. He just seemed calm and on top of things,” Amaddio said.
However, junior Brenton Sullivan, who appeared in the show as a police officer, said that he heard sirens and yelling. “Then it quieted down, and then dogs were barking and people were screaming,” he said. “Chaos in the basketball game started pretty early in the play.”
The policemen appeared in the last scene in Act I. Sullivan said that the actors who were backstage at the time supported Griffith’s decision to go into the parking lot and deal with the real police, although it meant cutting his on-stage appearance very close.
Theater Department Chairwoman Christine McBurney said, “[Griffith] was the only actor allowed to have his cell phone on his person and turned on.”
After the basketball game ended, students in the parking lot attempted to force their way into the theater via the backstage door. Sullivan had opened that door to let in the cold air. “I had to slam the back door shut to make sure they couldn’t get in,” he said.
“It is troubling to me because we could have been pulled out of the world we worked hard to create,” McBurney said.
However, McBurney expressed understanding as well. “The reality is that they are teenagers and we are in a high school,” she said.
As for LeBron . . . the night was newsworthy enough without him.
A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on pages 4 and 5 of The Shakerite.