A high school basketball game in Illinois erupted into chaos after players started swinging at each other on the court. Players from both teams began fighting in order to defend their teammates, adults got involved as the fight moved into the stands, and referees ended up being knocked on the floor.
The melee happened at Alton High School’s Tip-Off Classic tournament in Illinois, during a game featuring Alton and Riverview Gardens High School on November 23, 2018. Sports reporter John Hough was in the stands covering the game. His video of the brawl has since gone viral, with more than 100,000 views on Twitter.
Hough explained that players on both teams had been getting heated during the first half, and that two technical fouls were called on the Riverview Rams during the third quarter. Alton was leading 64-43 when the brawl began, with less than 20 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The referees decided that neither team would be credited with the win. They called a double-forfeit and neither team was allowed to move ahead in the tournament. The rest of the tournament was later canceled.
The Riverview Gardens head coach, Milton Stith, told Hough that he regrets not doing more to control the situation. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. I feel bad. [There are] some things I should’ve did a little differently with my guys. It was a heated competition and tempers flared.”
The school district released a statement to CBS affiliate KMOV-TV that reads, “Riverview Gardens School District has a long tradition of athletic integrity and excellence. This unfortunate incident is not representative of the athletic culture that exists in Riverview Gardens.”
Alton’s head coach, Eric Smith, did not comment publicly on the fight, nor has the school district.
Three deputies with the Madison County Sheriff’s department were at the game providing security. KMOV-TV reported that police officers from five additional department responded to the gym to provide backup and get control of the crowd. Officials said about 100 people got involved in the fight, but luckily there were no serious injuries.
As you can see in the video, the confrontation began under the basket between players. Additional players got involved, and there appears to be coaches trying to break it up. Referees also tried to separate the players; at least one ref is seen getting knocked to the ground by a player at :12.
The fight shifted from under the basketball hoop to the stands, where adults were seen getting involved. Amid the chaos, it is difficult to tell the difference between those swinging and those trying to stop the fight. The announcer can be heard urging people to stay in the stands and not get involved.