De La Salle’s opening-round playoff game had an ugly ending Friday night.
A player from Northwest High School punched a De La Salle player during the postgame handshake played at De La Salle.
De La Salle Athletic Director Tony Bonura said the De La Salle player, Stephen Kelly, was not taken to the hospital, but he was unsure of his condition. Kelly is the son of De La Salle coach Paul Kelly.
Northwest coach John Babineaux said his player was not arrested but was summoned by the police, meaning he will have to make a court appearance. The game had just ended at the time of the incident, with the Cavaliers claiming an 86-59 victory over the visitors from Opelousas.
Babineaux said he was talking to one of the De La Salle coaches when the incident occurred and didn’t see the punch, but his player admitted to hitting his opponent.
The Northwest player had been ejected from the game late in the fourth quarter after drawing two technical fouls. The ejection occurred after the Northwest player committed an intentional foul on Kelly.
It was one of “four or five technicals” called in the game, Babineaux said.
“They even called one (technical) against one of my kids who never says anything,” Babineaux said.
Babineaux said his player who was ejected and involved in the incident had complained to him in the third quarter about being pushed and shoved in the game, and he told his player to tell the referees.
“Nothing was done apparently and, with two minutes left, he was being kicked out of the game,” Babineaux said. “I don’t know what happened (when players were shaking hands). I don’t know if something was said or what.”
Bonura said police and school officials working the game acted promptly after the punch was thrown.
“You have a plan in place for things like this, and fortunately for us our plan worked, and I really believe it helped prevent a much bigger incident from happening,” Bonura said. “That’s why you have a plan. The plan worked the way it was supposed to. Coaches and personnel did exactly what they were trained to do.”
Bonura was concerned the ejected player was not sent to the locker room after his ejection.
“I feel the incident could have been prevented if that had happened,” Bonura said.
According to LHSAA assistant director Keith Alexander, high school players aren’t sent to the locker room after ejections, unlike college and NBA players.
“The officials don’t make high school players leave because they have to be under supervision,” Alexander said. “If the player’s principal or coach sends the player off somewhere or to sit with the parent, that’s their responsibility. But the officials just send (ejected) players to the bench.”
Alexander said the referees had exited the floor by the time the incident occurred, but they would be filing an incident report to the LHSAA.
“It was crazy at first, but I think both sides did a good job of restraining our kids,” Babineaux said.
The loss ended the season for Northwest.
De La Salle will host E.D. White on Tuesday in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.