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Suspensions handed out, winner decided after fight disrupts Akron boy's basketball semifinal game

Akron Basketball
Posted at 5:04 PM, Mar 03, 2022

AKRON, Ohio — A review conducted by the Northeast District Athletic Board after a fight broke out during an Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II boy's basketball district semifinal game Wednesday has determined the winner of the game and divvied out punishment to at least two student-athletes involved.

During the district semifinal game between Akron Buchtel and Akron East at North Ridgeville High School, the two teams began brawling in the third quarter with 2.7 seconds remaining. Players had to be restrained by their coaches, and officiating refs suspended the game as a result of the disruption.

"It evolved into some pushing, shoving and some players came off the bench from East and from that point it escalated to the point where it was so disruptive for the game that the game officials decided to stop it," said Joe Vassalotti, coordinator of athletics and secondary education for Akron Public Schools.

In addition to the coaches and refs that helped intervene in the brawl, staff from North Ridgeville Schools, as well as officers with the North Ridgeville Police Department, helped deescalate the fight. News 5 has learned no players were seriously injured in the fight.

Akron Public Schools issued the following statement in regards to Wednesday night's fight:

"This is without question an unfortunate incident that is not representative of the expectations and school culture that exists throughout the Akron Public Schools . I want to make it clear that this type of conduct is not tolerated. We greatly appreciate the response of our coaches and players, as well as security officers and our administrators, for de-escalating the situation."

On Thursday, following the review of game film and in consultation with OHSAA, the Northeast District Athletic Board decided to finalize the game as it stood at the time the game was suspended, with Buchtel leading East 53-32.

With the finalized results, Buchtel will now advance to the district championship game on Saturday, playing the winner of the Shaw vs. Gilmour Academy game Thursday.

Video from that rival matchup was pulled from the Akron Public Schools athletic streaming webpage, but video provided to News 5 partner Akron Beacon Journal gives a better look at how things escalated between the Buchtel Griffins and the East Dragons near the end of the third quarter.

According to Akron's athletic director, two Buchtel players will be suspended as a result of the fight. The Northeast District Athletic Board noted that the players will be suspended for the required number of contests as mandated by OHSAA. The two suspended student-athletes will not be able to participate in Saturday's championship game, but all other players on the team will.

"We are disappointed and looking into it and we sure hope this doesn't happen again and we hope it's a life lesson learned for the young men involved who might suffer consequences from this," Vassalotti added.

The Northeast District Athletic Board also noted that all of the coaches will be available for the game.

Meanwhile, there are pending suspensions for student-athletes at Akron East stemming from the fight, but those have not yet been announced.

"The NEDAB is disappointed in the actions of some of the members of the Akron East and Akron Buchtel boys basketball programs. The actions of these individuals have no place in high school athletics," Northeast District Athletic Board said. "We also would like to compliment and thank the tournament staff, the staff of North Ridgeville Schools and the police department of North Ridgeville for their ability to quickly de-escalate the situation to prevent any further incidents arising."