Race tensions could have contributed to game-ending melee
Racial slurs from the stands may have fanned the flames at a heated boys basketball game Tuesday between Cole and Karnes City, where opposing players fought on the floor, fans of both teams spilled onto the court and they all were sent out of the gym before the final buzzer.
Jourdanton ISD superintendent Theresa McAllister, serving as alternate chairperson of the District 26-3A Executive Committee, said Thursday that Karnes City must investigate the possible use of racial slurs by spectators in its home gym.
Cole principal Isabell Clayton said the state-ranked team at her school, located on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, is predominantly black.
“It was alleged that people were using the N-word,” Clayton said.
McAllister said the district executive committee also ruled that every player who suited up for Tuesday’s game, which was stopped midway through the fourth quarter and will count as a 48-40 win for Cole, will be suspended for Friday’s district games.
Clayton said Cole (31-1, 10-0 district), ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, will use a roster of alternate players in its home game against Brooks Academy. Karnes City coach Kyle Armstrong said his team will forfeit Friday’s scheduled home game against Fox Tech, the last of the season for the Badgers (15-15, 2-10).
A total of five players from Cole and Karnes City will be suspended one additional game and be on probation for one year. Clayton and McAllister declined to identify the players who received the stiffer penalty, but Clayton said four are from Cole, which has two regular-season games remaining before beginning the playoffs.
Karnes City ISD superintendent Jeanette Winn, who did not respond to a message left at her office Thursday evening, said Wednesday the melee started as an altercation between No. 32 for Karnes City and No. 0 for Cole. According to multiple online rosters for both teams, those players are seniors Rayden Cordaway and Jaelen Arnette, respectively.
Cole athletic director Tina Guerrero, citing an account an official provided to the district executive committee, said referees stopped play and were in the process of calling a flagrant foul against a Karnes City player when the fight started.
Clayton said three of the suspended Cole players “moved toward him to try to break it up.”
“There was a lot of yelling going on, things got a little bit rough, and our player responded to a foul,” Clayton said.
Clayton said some of the Cole fans who went onto the court were “concerned about the safety of their kids and getting them out of that situation.”
None of the coaches for either team were punished by the district executive committee. Clayton said Cole has not taken further disciplinary action against any coaches or players.
The UIL’s State Executive Committee will hear the case Tuesday and could take further action.
The fight-marred game was the last scheduled contest for at least two years between the teams at Cole and Karnes City, which were placed in different basketball districts when the UIL released its biennial realignment last week. The Cougars and Badgers will continue to play district games in football.
“Karnes City’s building a new gym. It’s going to be a different atmosphere next time we’re there,” Clayton said. “I think after a couple years in a new gym, we’ll be OK going back to Karnes City.”