PROVIDENCE HIGH — The boys’ basketball playoff game Friday night between host Providence High and New Roads was halted with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter when a fight between players escalated with fans and coaches pouring on to the court and becoming involved in the fracas.
When order could not be restored, the officials called the game and Providence was credited with a 57-43 victory.
The ugly incident took place in a CIF Southern Section Division IV-A second-round game between the No. 1 Pioneers and No. 16 Jaguars. In what had been a physical game throughout, the referees had problems controlling the rough play.
However, things got out of control late in the fourth when Providence’s Jonathan Ly committed a hard foul on New Roads’ Keylan Jandoo-Baker. Both players began to throw punches and teammates from both sides became involved. As the players were continuing to scuffle, fans from both sides, beginning with the New Roads contingent, left their seats and also became involved in the fight. Some fans grabbed players, while the officials were left powerless to deal with the situation.
With fans still on the court and some players yelling at one another and others having to be restrained, the referees put a halt to the game. Security from the adjacent Providence St. Joseph Medical Center had to be summoned to try and restore order.
“It was kind of crazy. At Providence we just don’t do things like that as a team, period,” Pioneers freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. said referring to the fans becoming involved. “The way that happened, that was pretty bad.”
Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville believes the situation escalated as a direct result of the officials losing control of the game, as well as the opposition’s fans becoming involved.
“I’m really disappointed with how their crowd and their coaches acted,” he said. “But there was really no control by the refs for the entire game. I’ll be very disappointed if there are any kinds of sanctions handed down to either team. It wasn’t the players’ fault. Kids are going to be kids. But when adults get involved, that’s another story.”
Even after the game had been called, New Roads players, coaches and fans would not immediately vacate the Providence gym, which kept tensions high.
The incident marred a fine performance from LoVett and teammate Christian Ware-Berry. The two players scored 53 of the Pioneers’ 57 points. While LoVett poured in a game-high 32 points, Ware-Berry tallied 21 points.
Providence (24-4), the Liberty League champion, was playing without senior starter Patrick Gonzalez, who was sidelined with a foot injury. Gonzalez was the state’s leading scorer last season.
Without Gonzalez in the lineup, Baskerville said the Pioneers are missing a vital component, and that resulted in the unbalanced scoring.
“That’s what happens when one of your leaders isn’t in the game,” said Baskerville, who’s in his first season. “What we really miss is being able to go to Patrick when Marcus is double-teamed. When he’s in there you can’t double-team Marcus, because you also have to worry about Patrick.”
It was a rough start for the Pioneers, who had trouble getting into a rhythm against the Jaguars (13-8) — the No. 2 team from the Coastal League. But the team was kept in the game by Ware-Berry and LoVett, who scored 11 and nine points, respectively.
Providence started to find its stride late in the first quarter, and closed it out with a 22-13 lead.
In the second quarter, the Jaguars couldn’t cut into the lead, as Providence went into halftime with a 37-23 cushion.
The third quarter saw New Roads finally whittle the deficit to single digits when Derrien King scored with 4:19 left to make it a 40-32 game. But the Pioneers pushed back and had a 12-point lead after three quarters.
New Roads got as close as 11 points in the fourth.
The Pioneers will move to the quarterfinal round with a game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at a site to be determined. They will play Lancaster Baptist or Shalhevet.