A high school basketball tournament in Phoenix took an unexpected turn over the weekend when a wild brawl broke out, shocking video shows.
Players from Mesa Skyline High School and Cesar Chavez High School were lining up to shake hands late Saturday after the Phoenix Union High School District Coyote Classic tournament when a student from Mesa threw a punch, setting off an ugly free-for-all involving coaches, players and spectators, video obtained by the Arizona Republic showed.
“It was a terrible scene,” Skyline coach James Capriotti told the newspaper. “It was a really bad look after a really good game.”
Prior to the fight, the atmosphere had been “very volatile” throughout the final game of the 24-team tournament to kick off the high school basketball season in Arizona, Capriotti said.
It’s unclear exactly what led to the scrap, but Capriotti said video footage clearly showed that a player from Cesar Chavez threw the first blow: a left-hand punch as the teen was exchanging what was supposed to be handshakes and pleasantries with opponents.
“Punches were thrown,” the coach continued. “The first punch was thrown by them.”
Capriotti said no players from Mesa Skyline were hurt, while the Cesar Chavez coach Gary Lee declined to comment, the newspaper reported.
“Just unfortunate a good game like that between two of the top 10 teams goes down like that,” he told the Arizona Republic. “We have nothing but respect for Coach [Gary] Lee. It’s unfortunate.”
Cops responded to Phoenix Central High School to break up the unforeseen post-game action, but no arrests were made and there were no reports of injuries, according to a Phoenix police spokeswoman.
“Officers arrived and the crowd was asked to leave,” department spokeswoman Mercedes Fortune said.
Capriotti, whose Coyotes beat the top-ranked Cesar Chavez Champions, 63-56, said now he’ll wave goodbye to the customary post-game handshake line after the altercation.
“I’ll shake hands with the coach but [our team will] go into the locker room,” he said.
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