WPIAL seeks response from Clairton, Monessen after brawl

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | 8:18 AM

The boys basketball brawl between Clairton and Monessen was “awful,” said WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley, who requested immediate written reports from each school’s administration.

In particular, the WPIAL board wants to know how the schools plan to identify and discipline those involved in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing fight.

“We would like to see what their response is to what occurred,” O’Malley said Wednesday. “We would like the written report in here today.”

The WPIAL also will hold a hearing with coaches and administrators on Monday.

It’s expected that the two schools will act quickly to punish individuals involved, O’Malley said, so it’s unlikely that the WPIAL board would consider excluding either from the playoffs. Monessen (12-7, 9-0) is the top-ranked team in WPIAL Class A. Clairton (15-4, 8-2) is ranked third. The WPIAL playoff pairings will be announced next Tuesday.

Monessen athletic director Gina Naccarato said she, along with high school principal Eric Manko, went to Clairton Wednesday to meet with administrators to discuss the situation.

Naccarato said the district is investigating the situation and was preparing to send a report to the WPIAL as requested.

“I am not going to make any comments on (the incident) right now,” Naccarato said. “It is in the hands of the WPIAL.”

The Section 2 game at Clairton was halted with 4 minutes, 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Monessen led 54-45 and was declared the winner.

According to the NFHS rule book, “a quarter(s) may be shortened in an emergency or at any time by mutual agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee.”

Players from both benches as well as fans stormed the court, some involved in fights, others trying to break it up.

“I saw people from both sides and adults from the stands coming out to join into that,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said Tuesday night. “That’s very unfortunate to see something like that happen.”

Fans were escorted out of the gymnasium, and the game was stopped.

“I certainly didn’t like the way it ended,” Monessen coach Joe Salvino said Tuesday night. “It ended bad, so anytime something like that breaks out, it’s not a good thing.”

More than 100 people were involved in the fracas.

According to Clairton City School District, there were four Clairton police officers, two from Monessen and two additional security guards on duty at the game.

Officers from Allegheny County, Elizabeth Township, Glassport, McKeesport, Port Vue, Lincoln, Versailles, Jefferson, Liberty and Elizabeth borough and township police departments also responded to the scene, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said.

Clairton firefighters responded to help ventilate the school after pepper spray was used, Downs said.

One police officer and one Monessen basketball player were hurt. The injuries were not believed to be serious.

Clairton City School District released the following statement: “The Clairton City School District is investigating the incident during the boys’ basketball game this evening vs. Monessen. We take this extremely serious and we will be conducting an internal investigation, as well as 100% cooperating with the authorities and the WPIAL. We are saddened by the incident and remind all those that attend any sporting event (adult and child) that violence will never be the answer. Additionally, we will be reviewing video footage to further continue the investigation.”

The Clairton police department is investigating.

The Mon Valley Independent contributed. Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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