Fists Fly, Player Cuffed in Hoops Tourney

By R. Stickney
|  Tuesday, May 31, 2011  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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NBCSanDiego

Police cars line up outside Mira Mesa High School where the tournament was being held.

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A fight between competing teams in a youth basketball tournament ended with one player in the hospital, another arrested on assault charges and a team's coach and players banned from the tournament for life.

Words were exchanged between players when two teams from the San Fernando Valley were competing Monday in a tournament involving JV, varsity and traveling teams at Mira Mesa High School in San Diego.

Witnesses said play was rough between the Rising Stars of San Fernando Valley and the Granada Hills Eagles. After several warnings, referees decided to call the semi-final game with just minutes left on the clock. 

Parents and spectators exchanged verbal insults and taunted players on the court.

Things got heated when a coach addressed parents, who allegedly shouted out a racial slur, officers said.

A fight broke out involving at least 15 people, officers said.

"Within about 20 seconds, almost the entire Eagles team ran over to the stands and started attacking one of the Rising Stars parents," said witness Stuart Schneider.

At one point, tournament organizers locked the doors to try and separate the teams, Schneider said.

Tournament director Rich Goldberg didn't witness the melee but called the attackers "future criminals."

"I’ve never seen players go and attack parents of the other team,” Goldberg said.

One player punched an opposing player in the face and broke his nose. By all accounts, the Rising Stars player was not involved in the fight when he was "cold-cocked" by the Eagles player.

The Eagles player was arrested for assault, and the entire team was ejected from the three-day tournament.

Goldberg said the Eagles coach and the players will never be allowed to participate in the tournament again.

The injured player is hospitalized with a broken nose and some facial injuries but should be okay while the player who was arrested has been released, Goldberg said. 

"I think he should be held and charged," he said. "I don’t know why he was released. He should be punished. There should be some consequence for this."

Early information from responding officers misidentified the team affiliations of the victim and suspect.

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