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LHSAA upholds penalties following fight at ESJH

BATON ROUGE — Central Lafourche High School withdrew its boys basketball team from the Class 5A playoffs Tuesday after the Louisiana High School Athletic Association upheld a ruling disqualifying varsity players from Central Lafourche and East St. John High for the first round playoff game because of a brawl between the two teams Friday night.

According to reports, players from East St. John and Central Lafourche were involved in a physical altercation during halftime of Friday night’s District 7-5A basketball game at East St. John.

The players were headed to their respective locker rooms through the same small hallway off the gym when the fight occurred. Citing safety concerns, game officials ended the contest with Central Lafourche leading East St. John 45-25.

On Monday the Louisiana High School Athletic Association ruled both teams must forfeit the game and all players listed in the varsity scorebook would have to sit out the next game, which would be both teams’ first playoff game.

Both teams were qualified to make the Class 5A playoffs, which begin Friday. Central Lafourche was listed as No. 13 in the power rankings. East St. John was at No. 28. The top 32 teams make the bracket.

The LHSAA was to release the bracket at noon Monday but postponed the release to give both schools a chance to appeal the decision. Central Lafourche filed the appeal Monday and the LHSAA scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

During the sportsmanship hearing, officials and coaches from both schools presented their versions of events, along with the game’s referees and law enforcement personnel from St. John the Baptist and Lafourche Parishes.

Central Lafourche Principal Jarod Martin urged the committee not to penalize all players for the actions of a few but, after more than 30 minutes of deliberations, the LHSAA announced it was upholding the initial penalty.

Immediately following the announcement, Martin told the LHSAA his school would withdraw its team from the playoffs, citing a lack of players to field a team.

East St. John was scheduled to play Friday night at No. 5 H.L. Bourgeois, the District 7-5A champion, using sub-varsity players.