Roselle Catholic-Arts game called after shoving match escalates into fan-fueled fracas

Roselle Catholic-Arts game called after shoving match escalates into fan-fueled fracas

The Iverson Classic Thursday at Roselle Catholic began with a rousing Top 20 riot through Science Park and continued with a rousing comeback from St. Thomas Aquinas against a talented Maryland team.

The third game of the evening – No. 1 Roselle Catholic and No. 17 Newark Arts – carried the promising tensions of another thrilling contest until a small jaw session between several passionate opponents turned ugly rather abruptly before an incoming pass.

The game was halted with 4:37 in the second quarter and Roselle Catholic in front, 21-12, after the argument turned to light pushing, then heavy pushing and possibly even a smack. At this point, several dozen spectators poured onto the pitch, leading to a spate of heated shouting and finger pointing, adding further confusion to an already chaotic situation.

Roselle’s Catholic school principal, Thomas Berrios, initially decided that the game could pick up where it left off as long as the crowd exited the building. However, Berrios was not happy with the dispersion rate after 25 minutes and decided to call the game out altogether with the approval of Roselle Catholic and Prophet Kates of Arts head coaches Dave Boff. A follow-up match between Minnesota Prep and Texas-based Dynamic Prep was played after the gym was finally cleared.

Shortly after the melee, there was a heavy Roselle police presence in both the gym and the parking lot, but no arrests were reported.

Boff and Kates both said they were not given any information on ejections or technical details from officials prior to the cancellation announcement. In addition, Boff, Berrios and the game management did not want to comment.

Penalties will almost certainly be imposed once officers’ reports are filed and a representative from the New Jersey State Athletic Association reviews all available video of the incident. Should a team accumulate more than two disqualifications (player or coach), it would not qualify for the state tournament.

Kates felt the entire scuffle could have been avoided if the on-ice officials had reacted more quickly and forcefully to the initial pinching along the baseline. Roselle Catholic had just scored seven straight points to open the 21-12 lead and emotions were clearly running high at the time.

“The referees have to intervene,” he said. “Kids were talking and then one of my players gets pushed and then out of nowhere another. Things kind of went haywire there.

“My thing is when the umpires saw that kind of jaw, to either call it double technical or end it before it went too far like it did. Control the game.”

In that first game of the night, the unranked Science Park rallied in the second half to stun No. 11 Montclair Immaculate 61-58. Fourth-placed St Thomas Aquinas got off to a slow start against Rosedale Christian Academy but caught fire in the second half en route to a 66-60 win.

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Mike Kinney can be reached at m[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeKinneyHS.

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