Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Garden Spot a hot spot for playoff game
Garden Spot a hot spot for playoff game
Sometimes the passion and intensity of sports spills over into something at least unsightly and at most dangerous.
It happened on Todd Reitnouer's watch Saturday night.
Reitnouer is the athletic director at Garden Spot, which hosted the McCaskey-Coatesville state-tournament basketball game, marred by two fracases, one on the floor during the game and another, in the gym lobby, in the aftermath of Coatesville's dramatic one-point win.
A raucous crowd watched and, in a few cases, participated.
"I didn't sleep last night,'' Reitnouer said Sunday. "I went over it in my head a thousand times.''
Early in the fourth quarter a loose-ball battle on the floor between McCaskey's Keyon Cowan and Jaquan Hollingshead of Coatesville escalated into a wild shoving match in which, according to McCaskey coach Steve Powell and other witnesses, at least one punch was thrown.
Players from both benches and fans were on the floor during the frenzy, which resulted in a lengthy delay while officials caucused and security personnel restored order.
Cowan and Hollingshead were given technical fouls and Coatesville's Leroy Hoggard, identified as having thrown a punch, was ejected.
Coatesville coach Rick Nelms acknowledged Sunday that his team left the bench and streamed on the floor, the first time that's happened to him in 34 years of coaching.
By the rules, that should result in multiple technical fouls, but Nelms said the game officials told him they couldn't identify players who had left the bench, so there were no technicals.
Nelms said he was interested in seeing videotape of the incident to determine if he needed to further discipline anyone.
Immediately after the game, the crestfallen McCaskey players walked directly out of the gym, into the lobby and toward their locker room.
"We were glad they did that,'' Reitnouer said. "We were worried about a handshake line.''
One Coatesville player -- Andre Boggs, the Red Raiders' superb point guard -- followed the McCaskey kids off the floor, moving quickly.
As it turned out, Boggs was apparently not interested in chasing down or confronting anyone. But some fans assumed otherwise, and hastily filled the gym lobby with heated humanity.
In the resultant series of ongoing squabbles and confrontations, a woman punched a constable, according to Reitnouer.
The woman was handcuffed, but order, or something like it, was restored at length. There were apologies and no arrests.
Before the game ended Reitnouer called New Holland Borough police and asked that officers come to the school and patrol the parking lot postgame. They did, but police did not come in the building and were not involved in the incidents.
Nelms said Sunday he was hugged by a couple of fans and former players immediately after the final buzzer.
"Then I turned around to shake hands (with McCaskey), and they weren't there,'' he said.
By the time he got to the lobby, Nelms said, both teams were secured in their locker rooms. He didn't know why Boggs, whom he termed, "an interesting fellow,'' ran off the way he did.
Garden Spot has become a go-to site for state basketball tournament games, because it has a large, newish facility and a reasonable location in the context of the Lancaster, Harrisburg and Philadelphia areas.
"We do it out of the goodness of our heart,'' Reitnouer said. "A lot of people in the community like it; they like to come and watch the games.''
The gym technically seats 2,200, but that's counting every inch of bleacher space as one seat. It was an overflow crowd.
Reitnouer was surprised McCaskey-Coatesville wasn't held at Reading's Geigle Complex, an arena-style facility with multi-level seating and a capacity of close to 3,000.
"I could have had 50 police there,'' Reitnouer said, "and the same thing could have happened.''
"The people at Garden Spot, I thought, were fantastic,'' Nelms said. "Our two fan groups were just too much for the gym.''
nSaturday night's state opener between the McCaskey and Coatesville boys' basketball teams was marred by multiple fracases on and off the court.