One arrest has been made and two arrests are pending following a brawl that ended Thursday night’s basketball game between Smyrna (Del.) and Cape Henlopen (Lewes, Del.), police said Friday.
The fighting occurred at Milford High School during the Henlopen North Conference boys basketball playoff game.
The incident started with 4:02 remaining in the game with an altercation between at least one Cape Henlopen player and at least one spectator sitting behind the Vikings’ bench at the Milford Central Academy gymnasium.
Of the three suspects, one is a Cape Henlopen basketball player and the other two are spectators.
All three have already or plan to turn themselves in to police, Milford police Sgt. Robert Masten said. The first, an 18-year-old from Milton, has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and third-degree assault. His unsecured bail was set at $1,000.
The two others are being sought or were in the process of being taken into custody after their arraignments, Masten said.
At least one spectator was handcuffed and detained by police Thursday night.
Masten said five officers were working at the game. Those officers responded immediately, and additional officers were called. It took at least four minutes to restore order, as dozens of spectators spilled onto the court.
Multiple punches were thrown as coaches and officials from both schools tried to separate players and spectators. One Cape Henlopen player was captured on video kicking a spectator who was in the process of getting up off the gym floor.
During a timeout between the third and fourth quarters, a Henlopen Conference official spoke to spectators sitting behind the Cape Henlopen bench. Two Milford police officers were summoned and also spoke to the spectators, and the game resumed.
During another timeout with Smyrna leading 61-34 with 4:02 left in the game, players from both teams were huddled around their coaches at their respective benches when the altercation began near the end of the Cape Henlopen bench. Smyrna’s bench was located at the other end of the gym, and no Smyrna players appeared to be involved as the melee unfolded.
“The kid [a spectator] swung at him [the Cape Henlopen player],” Cape Henlopen coach Stephen Re said Thursday night. “And then once I saw [him] swing back, that’s when I yanked him and I took him away. And then I just held him, and then somebody grazed my head and hit him while I was holding him.”
Re said the player was punched in the face and left with a black eye. He said spectators behind the Cape Henlopen bench had been causing problems during the entire game.
The teams were holding a one-game playoff to determine the Northern Division champion after both finished 11-1 in conference play. Smyrna was officially declared the winner and still played in its Henlopen Conference championship game Friday night at Dover High School against Woodbridge.
“We looked at all of the film, and if you watch the film, you see no players from Smyrna are involved,” Kobasa said.
A statement from the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association said the following:
“Regarding last night’s Smyrna/Cape basketball game, at this time all matters are being handled by the school districts involved. The DIAA and its membership are working on additional safeguards to help prevent future incidents.”
Calls to Cape Henlopen officials were not returned.