A bench-clearing brawl that broke out between boys basketball teams on Dec. 7 has led to both teams being disqualified from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Playoffs.
Laney and Pender will be ineligible to compete in the state playoffs this year, after both schools lost their appeals. The NCHSAA announced the move last week.
Star News Online reports that the ruling was consistent with guidelines laid out in the NCHSAA handbook, which says that a team that accumulates three or more ejections for fighting is disallowed from playoff participation.
The Dec. 7 incident led to multiple ejections on both sides, with each team reaching the three ejection threshold spelled out in the handbook. Athletic directors from both schools said that not all of the ejected players threw punches or directly participated in the fight, and most of the ejections came from players leaving the bench.
“It’s the same thing as the pros,” Laney AD Fred Lynch told Star News Online. “You leave the bench, and it’s considered as you participating in the fight.”
Both teams were reportedly having their best seasons on the court in recent years, with each team in first place in their respective conferences.