A security officer, right, and another man help break up fight after a Detroit Public School League semifinal Tuesday between Pershing and Frederick Douglass at Cass Tech. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News)
Detroit -- It's becoming an all-too-familiar scene. A basketball game is played and an altercation ensues.
Another fight took place at the site of a Detroit Public School League basketball game on Tuesday. This one took place at Detroit Cass Tech High School following the second PSL boys' semifinal between Detroit Pershing and Detroit Frederick Douglass. A handful of security personnel broke up the fight between a couple of fans and two or three Douglass players. Punches were thrown, some landed, and security escorted two of the fans involved out of the gym.
Detroit Public Schools Police Department confirmed two arrests were made for disorderly conduct. There were no reports of injuries.
Last Friday at the PSL quarterfinals at Detroit East English Village Prep Academy, the second game between Cass Tech and Detroit Renaissance was called with 24.6 seconds remaining because of an altercation that took place in the stands, across from where the players benches were located. The altercation spilled onto the court. Cass Tech led 77-51, so the outcome of the game had been decided.
Detroit police officers also were present at Cass Tech. This show of force, especially at the entrances, is a welcome site for fans as they enter but altercations still take place.
Pershing coach Wydell Henry said he did not see the fight Tuesday and that his players already were in the locker room when it occurred.
Douglass coach Nkwane Young did not return calls but Shaheed Saleem, the dean of students, athletic director and junior varsity coach at Douglass, said the school is investigating the incident and no suspensions, at this time, have been made.
Many times fights break out between rival schools, particularly if it is a playoff game. The crowd at Cass Tech was near capacity, thus adding to the intensity and emotions.
It would be unfair to single out Detroit and its schools as the only place where violence takes place. On Jan. 25, an incident took place at halftime of a boys' basketball game between Romulus and Belleville, two rival schools, at Belleville. Fans and players were involved in an altercation and coaches from both teams issued suspensions.
Media coverage of basketball games is more frequent in Detroit. The PSL playoffs are a drawing card. But incidents can happen at anytime.
On Jan. 12, Channel 62, the CBS affiliate in Metro Detroit, reported a shooting that took place near Detroit Osborn High School, near 7 Mile Road and Hoover on Detroit's east side, following a game between Osborn and East English Village.
Often incidents that take place at such venues are a continuation of some incident that took place earlier. Coaches and administrators should be on guard for such possibilities.
Coaches would be advised to quickly usher their players off the court following the postgame handshakes to help avoid a disgruntled fan, for instance, from approaching the players.
Willie Mitchell, the coach at Detroit Davis Aerospace and former Pershing great, was in the stands Tuesday and helped break up one of the fights. He said he saw a security person having difficulty and decided to step in. Mitchell said the situation was chaotic but said such incidents take place in the NBA, college and at other levels.
"It happens," he said.
Saleem said he's thankful the altercation did not escalate.
Sadly, it's not if another incident will take place, it's when.