ORANGEBURG, N.Y. – Members of the Peekskill community are “disgusted” and “embarrassed” after a brawl involving parents and girls basketball players broke out following a playoff game at Tappan Zee High School Saturday night.
At least one girls basketball player was punched in the face by her teammate, and at least one adult woman was taken to the hospital as a result of the brawl. No players were seriously injured during the incident.
“It’s embarrassing, it’s disgusting,” Jim Hunt, whose daughter plays for Peekskill, said Saturday night. “We’re hoping the school district actually takes some action.”
Following postgame handshakes between the two teams, Peekskill players began fighting with one another. The team was upset about the loss, according to several people in the area, then the anger manifested into a physical altercation.
Mike Zacchio (@Zacchio_LoHud) February 18, 2017
Tappan Zee security called police immediately after the first punch was thrown, according to Tappan Zee interim athletic director Chris Rastelli.
“It’s been happening for a long time, apparently, and this was just the head of it all,” Rastelli said, referring to animosity among the Peekskill players. “Players going after players, that’s what it was, and parents got involved. To protect their kids, parents got involved.”
Tappan Zee head coach Tom Cromer escorted his team into the trainer’s room nearby once the incident began to keep his players safe. Rastelli said he had a hunch something might happen, based on his observation that a Peekskill parent was verbally abusive most of the game.
At one point, a Peekskill parent charged towards a Peekskill girls basketball player but was intercepted before getting physical with the player.
Nyrie Holliman, the Lady Red Devils’ lone senior, was seen on the court in tears pleading for the violence to stop. Tappan Zee girls basketball assistant coach Chris Lorusso said Holliman came up to him afterwards, hugged him and apologized for her team’s actions.
“She’s a good kid. She comes over our house quite a bit and has dinner sometimes,” Hunt said of Holliman. “I feel bad for her because this is the last memory she has of being on the basketball court in high school.”
Peekskill superintendent Dr. David Fine issued a statement Sunday morning, addressing the previous night’s events.
“I am saddened by the unfortunate incident involving our players that occurred at Saturday evening’s basketball game at Tappan Zee High School,” the statement read. “On behalf of our school district, I can tell you this behavior does not in any way represent our school system, students or community, and that such actions will not be tolerated by the District.”
Fine said in the statement that coaches and district administration are examining the facts of the situation and that the district will respond “firmly, swiftly and fairly,” upon completion of the investigation.