COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge gym turned unruly Tuesday night after the Hickman boys basketball team's thrilling three-overtime 78-74 win over the Bruins.
The Hickman student section stormed the court shortly after Kewpies guard Douglas Johnson's free throw sealed the win, sparking pushing and shoving from Rock Bridge players caught in the middle of the celebration. The packed-to-capacity gym filled with shouts and screams.
Hickman 78, Rock Bridge 74 (3OT)
Top Hickman performers
Jimmy Whitt, 30 points, four assists
Chris Clark, 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Douglas Johnson, 13 points
Top Rock Bridge performers
Nick Norton, 23 points, 7 assists
Jackson Dubinski, 15 points, 4 assists
Vencel Tigue, 15 points, 4 rebounds
Leo Terzopoulos, 11 points
"That's not the way we want to do things," said Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon outside his office after security guards and school officials, some with megaphones, mediated the chaos. "And that's not the way they (Hickman) want to do things either, I'm sure."
Tensions were already high on both sides before fans got involved. Hickman, led by sophomore guard Jimmy Whitt's 30 points, stormed back from a 16-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game in regulation and then again in the first overtime on a clutch 3-pointer by Mason Murray.
After failing to score at the buzzer in regulation, the first and second overtimes, Rock Bridge gave the ball to junior guard Nick Norton (23 points) in the third overtime's waning seconds, but his 3-point attempt was blocked on a controversial no-call from the referees.
"I'm trying to figure out what a foul is right now," Scanlon said. "I watched him shoot that ball at the end and get fouled. I'm stunned. We can shoot it and people can slap our arms and nothing? I must have read the rule book wrong. When they hit your arm, it's a foul."
The play resulted in heated arguments from the Rock Bridge bench and the pounding of chests by Hickman players. Norton fell to the ground grabbing his wrist, pleading with the referee that he had been fouled while Johnson corralled the loose ball.
After the game, Rock Bridge officials didn't allow any players to comment, but Scanlon was animated.
"Every time they (officials) wanted to make a statement, it seemed like they made a statement and it was at our expense.
"I'm looking for five-second calls, and we got called for about three," he said, referring to the turnovers his team made down the stretch after Hickman deployed a full-court press.
The Bruins broke the press crisply a few times, but most possessions the ball found its way into the long arms of Whitt or junior guard Chris Clark, who finished with 19 points.
"Spectacular," Kewpies coach David Johnson said of Whitt, who hit an array of jump-shots and runners from around the court.
Johnson shuffled his players straight to the team bus after the game, saying none were available for comment. He also said he didn't see who started the fighting.
"Obviously it's a big rivalry," he said. "You like to win those."