After high school basketball fight, New Haven postpones pair of games against Bassick

Photo of Joe Morelli
A basketball lies on the dusty hardwood court of a college hoops arena during a break in the action.

A basketball lies on the dusty hardwood court of a college hoops arena during a break in the action.

Tar_Heel_Rob / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Upcoming boys basketball games between Bassick and two New Haven high schools have been postponed "due to safety concerns" according to New Haven athletic director Erik Patchofsky.

The announcement of postponements comes the day after a fight broke out in the handshake line following a game between Bassick and Wilbur Cross at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

Bridgeport's interim Superintendent of Schools Alyshia Perrin said the administration at Bassick High School was reviewing the incident and would take appropriate action.

Bassick’s next varsity home game was scheduled for Friday against Hillhouse at 7 p.m. The game against Wilbur Cross was scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m., also in Bridgeport. Bassick still has a scheduled game with Bridgeport Central at 4 p.m. Sunday at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport.

"At the conclusion of the game a fight broke out between both teams," Perrin said in a statement. "The administration of Bassick High School is reviewing the incident and will take appropriate action in accordance with Board of Education Policy 5131, Student Discipline.  Participation in the District’s interscholastic athletics program is a privilege, and the District will not tolerate behavior that is unsportsmanlike, promotes violence, is seriously disruptive of the educational process, and causes harm to others. The health and safety of all players, staff, officials, and spectators is our top priority. At this time, administration can confirm that the games scheduled against New Haven later this week have been postponed."

Following Monday night’s incident, Patchkofsky read the following statement when reached by phone: “During the handshake line, a fight broke out between the Wilbur Cross and Bassick players. We had several police and security on the court, including school administration, and the fight was broken up immediately.”

Patchkofsky declined further comment on the incident. Neither Bassick coach Bernie Lofton nor Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton have returned phone messages seeking comment, nor has Bassick athletic director Pat O’Rourke returned an email request for comment.

The New Haven Police Department has not returned calls requesting comment on the incident.

It is unclear what started the incident, though Dan Scavone, a CIAC executive staff member and director of the CIAC officials association who was in attendance at the game, confirmed there were six technical fouls assessed, three to each team. Technicals were given to three different Bassick players, two players from Wilbur Cross and to Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton. No individual received two technicals, which warrants not only an ejection, but also sitting out the next game. 

Video sent to Hearst Connecticut Media of the incident shows multiple fights breaking out near center court. Fans can be heard screaming in the back ground as punches are thrown between players near the scorers tables, which were separated during the incident. Video shows players from both teams continuing to throw punches as they drift from the center court area past the basket and onto the track area of the athletic center. Security guards and police officers are seen attempting to control the scene during the 36 second video.

Justin Harmon, the communications director for New Haven Public Schools speaking on behalf of Dr, Iline Tracey, New Haven’s Superintendent of Schools, said Tuesday, “We do not believe further comment would be helpful at this time.”

Wilbur Cross defeated Bassick 79-57. Wilbur Cross (7-2) is ranked seventh in the GameTimeCT state boys basketball poll. Bassick is 2-9.

Scavone confirmed the officials who worked the game had left the floor before the fight started.

“Their jurisdiction ends when they leave the visual confines of the floor, and they had left the floor,” Scavone said. “The fight occurred after in the handshake line.”

Scavone added once that happens, no ejections can be given out from officials.

If the games are not rescheduled, they would result in no contests, according to Gregg Simon, the associate executive director for the CIAC.
Simon said the CIAC has “obviously looked at the video several times” and spoke to school officials at both Bassick and Wilbur Cross on Tuesday.

“We want our member schools to work with one another to (discuss) what happened, to give appropriate consequences to those who were involved, but most importantly, to develop plans to make sure this never happens again,” Simon said Tuesday afternoon. “We plan on talking to both schools later this week.”

If the two schools cannot work out a resolution, then, Simon said, the CIAC steps in to assess it.

“If the two schools are at an impasse, we need to sit down with both schools to try and figure out the best path forward,” Simon said.; @nhrJoeMorelli