Hillcrest, Oakhaven and Bluff City girls basketball teams all had their appeals to remove the TSSAA’s restrictive probation for the 2023-24 school year denied during a special-called Board of Control meeting held virtually on Monday.
Hillcrest and Oakhaven girls basketball teams were involved in a fight on Jan. 30. Bluff City was involved in a similar incident with Mitchell on Jan. 26.
As a result of the incidents, along with being kicked out of the TSSAA basketball playoffs this year, all three schools are on probation for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years. Teams are permitted to play in the TSSAA playoffs while under probation, but must avoid any incidents during that period or risk more severe punishment.
Bluff City competes in District 16-2A. Hillcrest and Oakhaven compete in District 16-1A.
Though all three teams aren’t allowed to play in the postseason this year, they have a chance to reduce each of their probation periods if they choose to appeal the decision again, starting next school year.
Here’s what we know from the special board meeting that was called Monday afternoon.
All three schools can appeal probation starting next school year
Hillcrest, Oakhaven and Bluff City, while not directly winning their appeals, did receive a chance to lessen their punishments while they serve probations over the next two school years.
The board voted unanimously in all three schools’ cases to motion that they serve their restrictive probation this season and pay all fines associated with that. All three schools will have to pay $1,500 in fines during the restrictive probation period — $250 for players leaving the bench area, $250 for fans coming onto the floor and $1,000 for restrictive probation.
During the meeting, the Board also stated if each school would like to appeal the probation periods over the next two school years, they could given that they prove they’ve taken steps to avoid future incidents and potentially.
What happened with Bluff City incident
Bluff City and Mitchell girls basketball game was called early and the boys game was canceled as a result of a fight that broke out with 15 seconds left in the game.
A Mitchell player began swinging at a Bluff City player, according to the letter sent to Bluff City from TSSAA executive director Mark Reeves. As fans entered the court and the incident continued to grow, Memphis police intervened with pepper spray, trying to disperse the crowd.
During its appeal, Bluff City coach Keandrea Cook claimed none of their players outside the one player involved acted as aggressors in the incident. Cook claimed the Bluff City players that were on the court tried to diffuse the incident and the additional players that left the bench area went to the bleachers and not on the court.
The board stated it was unclear which fans where associated with which team and hard to determine each person’s role that was on the court, despite Bluff City’s effort to prove with video evidence, they weren’t the aggressors.
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Why Hillcrest, Oakhaven received postseason bans
Hillcrest and Oakhaven girls basketball teams were involved in a fight that started with 1:42 left in the third quarter. As a result of players leaving the bench and fans entering the court, restrictive bans were assessed to both teams.
During Monday’s appeal, Hillcrest principal Teddrick Estes stated that the officials report the stated six players left the bench area wasn’t accurate with Hillcrest only having eight players on its roster. Estes added Hillcrest’s boys basketball coach and assistant coach, along with school security were among the people that entered the court to de-escalate the situation.
Estes said a student that entered the court that did not try to resolve the situation was a sibling of one of Hillcrest’s players. That student was suspended for five days from school and banned from attending all Hillcrest activities the remainder of the year. He emphasized, most of the people that got on the court that were affiliated with Hillcrest were trying to de-escalate the fight.
Oakhaven athletic director, Endia Joiner, echoed what Estes said, stating most of the people that entered the court were trying to diffuse the incident. Joiner also stated there was a student that was an aggressor in the situation from Oakhaven that was assessed a five-day suspension as well.