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Cameron Smith

Florida player slams ref to court in violent altercation

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A heated Florida basketball game took a frightening turn on Monday night, when a Desoto County (Fla.) High player was ejected after receiving a technical foul, then snapped and went after the referee, who handed out the technical foul, as if he was auditioning to become a WWE wrestler.

According to the Fort Myers News-Press, the Desoto player involved in the assault was Mason Holland, a 6-foot-5 senior swingman who is also the Bulldogs' captain. The play that precipitated the ugly episode was an innocuous jog up court, in which Holland was being pressured by a Port Charlotte (Fla.) High defender. Holland pushed the defender off aggressively, earning a whistle, then pushed him off again as the referee walked over to hand out a technical foul.

After seeing the second push, the referee decided to eject Holland altogether, with the senior reacting by first expressing shock, then pushing the ref. Then, before Desoto coach Joe Sheridan could get out on the court to intervene, Holland attacked the ref with serious ferocity, lifting him off the court and slamming him down in a move seemingly right out of the WWE.

The game was halted immediately after the confrontation, with Port Charlotte awarded the victory by forfeit.

“I’ve coached 40 years and never seen anything close to that,” DeSoto County basketball coach Joe Sheridan told the Sun Newspapers. “I don’t teach this — I teach boys to be men. I apologize for his behavior to the school and the community. That young man will never play again here at DeSoto.”

According to the Sun Newspapers, Holland has been suspended for the rest of the season, and his troubles hardly stop there. The referee whom he tossed to the floor may be able to press assault charges, and such charges would by school code also lead to the student's explusion from the school. Meanwhile, the Desoto County athletic department doesn't seem to have any precedent to lean on in trying to sort out what to do.

The incident could also land the school in hot water, with fines or sanctions from the Florida High School Activities Association still a distinct possibility.

“It would be a school’s worst nightmare,” DeSoto County athletic director Jarrett Zolkos told the Sun Newspapers. “It’s not something you’d ever want to see.”

Luckily, we haven't seen it before, and all we can do is hope we don't see something like it again anytime soon.

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