Competitive basketball games bring heated tensions with them. That only escalates when the playoffs arrive, as was the case in a recent Illinois Class 4A sectional final.
What’s different is what unfolded on the court, and what that meant for the state playoffs after that.
With the game still in the balance and Farragut holding a 54-50 lead with less than a minute left, Farragut star Donovan Jones elevated for a dunk that would have all but ended the contest. Instead, his attempt was undercut by an unidentified North Lawndale opponent, sending him dangerously down to the court.
As soon as Jones hit the court, his teammates came rushing in to defend him. The North Lawndale squad followed suit. Then came the fans, rushing on to the court to get involved in the fight.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times and other sources, the game was called off because of the brawl. In the aftermath of the fight, the Illinois High School Association ruled the game an almost unheard of playoff double forfeit, eliminating both teams from the state playoffs.
The double-elimination not only took their section out of consideration in one swoop, but also automatically advanced DePaul College Prep on to the state semifinals.
That was made official when Farragut’s appeal of its half of the forfeit was rejected by the IHSA. In that way, the double-forfeit was not only a crushing blow to Farragut and North Lawndale, but also a major advantage to DePaul, which got a free ride to the semis, where it will face Bogan High School (Chicago, Ill.).
Will that extra rest and preparation prove crucial when Friday’s semifinal comes along? That remains to be seen. While the winners have yet to be determined, the losers are already known: Farragut and North Lawndale.