Police: 11 face criminal charges after basketball brawl - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Police: 11 face criminal charges after basketball brawl

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GREENWOOD COUNTY, S.C. (WYFF) —Almost a dozen people now face criminal charges in connection with a post-game basketball brawl.

Ware Shoals Police Chief Harry Irick confirmed Wednesday that 11 people have been charged from both sides of the fight that erupted on the hardwood last Friday night.

The main charges are assault and battery, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, Irick said.

He also shared with WYFF News 4 new cellphone video taken by a witness to the brawl.

Several parents, players and students were injured, and even two police officers were hurt in the melee after the final buzzer in the Ware Shoals versus Salem-Tamassee game.

The fight started as the two teams were supposed to be shaking hands. A police officer that was on the court at the end of the game said in his police report that a Tamassee-Salem player called a Ware Shoals player a racial slur. Tamassee-Salem coach and athletic director Ed Fry vehemently disputes that allegation.

Fry says there clearly was a breakdown in sportsmanship, and he said he's addressing that with his team. But he says no one at the school would ever condone racism. He said he did not anticipate any problems after the game.

"It's a really unfortunate incident -- not who we are -- not what we're about. I do want people to know that," he said.

The team is still awaiting a decision on disciplinary action from the High School Athletic Association. Fry says he has already taken disciplinary action of his own, although, he would not elaborate.

Tamassee-Salem is leaving the region, so these two teams will not play each other again unless it's in a playoff situation.

Meanwhile, Ware Shoals varsity basketball was in Due West on Tuesday for the first game since the brawl. But they'll be playing without five of their players.

Tuesday, the South Carolina High School League informed the Ware Shoals principal that after watching video of the brawl, five players will no longer be eligible to play, leaving only four players on the team.

Because of the shortage of players, the Ware Shoal junior varsity season has been canceled, and those players have been moved up to the varsity team.

Tao Cunningham, who's a member of both the Ware Shoals JV and varsity basketball teams, says he was playing the night the fight happened and was in the handshake line when it started.

"I just heard the dude said the n-word and then players got to swinging," Cunningham said. 

When asked if he actually heard the racial slur, Cunningham said, "Uh-huh. He said, 'Y'all n's suck' or something like that."

"To not believe our kids, and to believe theirs would be calling our kids liars. We've taken the steps to discipline our kids. Something set (the fight) off. It should not have, but it did," Ware Shoals High Principal Paul Anderson said.

Anderson said he has no reason not to believe his students, and though he can't prove it was used, he also can't prove it wasn't.

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