An irate Gilbert Mesquite fan, upset over rough play involving his daughter, confronted Mesa Dobson’s girls basketball coach on the court Friday night, touching off an incident that led to the gym being mostly cleared.
The fan, who multiple eyewitnesses said was the parent of a Mesquite player, yelled obscenities and allegedly pushed Tyler Dumas in the chest, leading more fans to enter the court before being led away with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter and Mesquite leading 29-20.
The incident overshadowed Mesquite’s 70-59 road win over No. 2 Dobson, which suffered just its second loss of the season.
“He came over and hit me in the chest, and after he hit me in the chest, people jumped in,” Dumas said.
“He said something to me — I can’t repeat it because there was only about one word that we don’t have to bleep out — but he was upset about the way that the game was being played, and I don’t really know. When he hit me in the chest, I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know if you really know what you just did.’ ”
Fans and officials restrained the man, who was escorted from the building. No arrests were made. Police were called and after a lengthy deliberation, fans were asked to exit the gym, leaving only a handful of spectators to watch the remainder of the game.
Det. Steve Berry, a Mesa Police spokesman, described the crowd as “unruly.”
The incident overshadowed a terrific effort by Mesquite (13-3), which lost 63-54 to Dobson (16-2) earlier this season. Mesquite led 31-21 at halftime and closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run to go up 58-39, essentially sealing the win.
“It’s always our goal to jump on everybody,” Mesquite coach Candice Gonzales said. “These girls put a lot of hard work in, and we got our eye on the prize. They know what it takes to get there, so we’ve got to stay on our toes and put other people on their heels.”
Both coaches agreed that the players did a good job of keeping their focus on the game and not letting the fan incident distract them, though there are sure to be repercussions and discussion to follow.
“It’ll be interesting to see what will happen,” Dumas said. “I’m sure the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association) will sort all of that out.”
Staff writer Danika Worthington contributed to this report.