Game actually lived up to expectations

Last updated: January 07. 2014 9:31AM - 1016 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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The game actually lived up to expectations and there were no fights or disharmony Friday evening when Scott High School’s boys traveled to Chapmanville.

A crowd that probably included more Scott fans than Chapmanville Regional High supporters looked on as these two Class AA squads put on an epic battle on the hardwood. And just as it should have been, the competition was limited to basketball talent with no boxing matches breaking out.

On that subject, a number of people have told me that the melee between Logan and Scott at CRHS two weeks ago was really much ado about nothing. I strongly and respectfully disagree. When coaches have to rush to the floor to separate players, it IS serious.

As one looks at the game film from that Logan-Scott game, it is apparent that one player has another from an opposing team in a chokehold. The results of that, obviously, could have been very serious indeed. And even though it is obvious one civilian from Chapmanville was in the middle of the fight, one from Logan is also seen in the video.

It is not a part of the game for fistfights to break out during a basketball contest. That is simply unacceptable and should not be explained away by fans, parents or administrators.

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While the Logan County board (or is it “bored”) of education sticks its collective head in the sand regarding what went on between Logan and Scott, film of the brawl shows it was just that — a brawl.

I still suspect that Logan High Coach Mark Hatcher could have escaped any punishment for his role in the fiasco if he had simply maintained a cooler head with police officers. Even though Hatcher pushed a Chapmanville town policeman to the floor, I honestly believe he could have said he did not realize he was shoving an officer and he was sorry. Then, I think, much cooler heads would have prevailed.

But Hatcher, being Hatcher, did not do that. When I arrived across the parking lot at the CPD police station minutes after the game, it was Hatcher whose loud voice could still be heard behind closed doors. He was continuing to berate the officers; still insisting that they had no right to be on the floor, etc.

I am sure his attitude in that station did a lot toward getting him charged with assault and battery on a police officer. He was still verbally assaulting them during the final four minutes of the game and immediately after.

They often say it is how one handles what he has already done that seals his fate. Hatcher could have likely saved any embarrassment by simply walking up to the officer, telling him he (Hatcher) was wrong and offered a sincere apology. But there was no way he was going to do that at the time.

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I doubt that it helped much for his step-father, Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant to show up at the police station. While some Loganites defend Hatcher and say he was a “target” of Chapmanville police, the officers did not ask him to go on the floor and push a police officer. Hatcher did, likely, contact his step-dad to ride to the rescue as he has many times in the past.

Everyone who knows Logan basketball knows the number of brushes Hatcher has had with law enforcement. There is little merit in arguing that he was “set up” this time since he has gone free many times before.

Hatcher is no villain but he is certainly no saint, either. His off-the-court antics are legendary. His coaching talent is equally well-known but on a more positive level.

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I don’t for a minute think Hatcher should serve jail time for what happened at Chapmanville. But the Logan board of education should at least reprimand him.They need to do SOMETHING to show that actions such as his will not be tolerated and condoned. Right now, it looks as though the entire Logan educational system supports a coach who pushes a policeman. What kind of example is that to the student/athletes in Logan County? Are we trying to tell them it is okay to battle a policeman if we are in a position of some authority? Beats me.

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No pun intended. Well, actually it WAS.

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Again, I have no personal beef with Hatcher. We have been as close to being friends as a reporter and coach can be. He does marvelous things on the basketball court; he is a coaching genius. But, somewhere, he needs to learn to temper his .. well, temper. He can’t offer to fight fans from opposing schools; and he can’t call game officials every name he can think of. It just isn’t good for him or for the game.

As I have noted, on the personal side, my youngest son played for Hatcher and graduated from Logan High. I do have loyalty to that situation. Hatcher took Chay to the state championship game he had always wanted to play in; nobody else did that. Hatcher will forever be revered around the Gregory household as a fantastic coach. He will not be thought of as a role model, however.

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I don’t think my sons should push a policeman, no matter the circumstances.

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One more time I am going to comment on the silliest allegation coming from the Logan-Scott melee. That one is that game officials have to “invite” policemen onto the court or field before they can do so.

That would be like arguing that you are out in the front yard beating your wife, a policeman drives by and he has to be “invited” onto the property to do something about it. And your front yard is PRIVATE not PUBLIC property.

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A law enforcement officer has jurisdiction anywhere in his bailiwick to take care of any law that is being broken. Both the Logan Sheriff’s Department and Chapmanville town police had jurisdiction in the CRHS gymnasium. There is no question or regulation that can overrule that.

And, I again point out, there were civilians from both Logan and Scott in the brawl. That certainly overrides the argument that officers are only there for “crowd control.”

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Incidentally, I have asked more than a dozen game officials if they ever heard of the “beckon law enforcement onto the court” rule. None have.

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There are those who make a seemingly-legitimate argument that game officials regulate the court and law enforcement can control the crowd. That seems logical until one considers things such as one game official told me. “Look, if a fight breaks out on the floor,” he said. “We’re too busy trying to separate the fighters than to find where the police are and beckon them. We are always tickled to death when we see police coming onto the floor to help settle things. That’s their job.”

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Or, as a coach/athletic director said, “We aren’t there to tell the police how to do their jobs. They know how to do it or they wouldn’t be there. We sure aren’t going to try to tell them when they can and can’t come on the floor.”

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I would actually still like to hear Hatcher say, I suppose in The Charleston Gazette since he doesn’t talk to local reporters about these matters, that he actually did something wrong by pushing the policeman. Constant defenses and irrational explanations do nothing tio make anything better for him or anyone else involved in this mess.

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Who knows if it was because of the brawl, but state police showed up in force for the Scott-CRHS game last Friday. There were three uniformed state police standing at one end of the gymnasium while two Logan deputies and a town policeman stood at the other end.

Thank goodness, nobody “beckoned” any of them on the floor.

* * * * * *

I continue to believe Scott will be a force to be reckoned with in Double A ball, even after the loss to Chapmanville.

The Tigers are good, too, but will again never make it across Interstate 64 to the state tournament.

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Keep the rumors, story ideas and game scores coming. Use my email or my cell, 304-533-5185.

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