The National Christian School Athletic Association's mission statement claims it is, "Committed to the pursuit of Christ-centered excellence in athletics, as well as ministering with the love of Christ to youth, schools, and communities nationwide." At some point in the fourth quarter of the organization's girls basketball national championship game, both teams lost sight of the "Christ-centered" part of that mission statement, instead giving in to tension during a full-out brawl that disqualified both teams, leaving the NCSAA without an official champion.
According to ESPNRise, the NCSAA title game between national powerhouse Potter's House (Fla.) Christian Academy and Riverdale Baptist (Md.) School was halted with 3:23 remaining, when both benches cleared as an argument on the court quickly expanded into a brawl, albeit a relatively tame one (no players were hurt in the fight). Because all the players who ran on to the court were disqualified for doing so, neither team could field a team after the incident, leaving referees and the NCSAA no choice but to rule the game as a rare double disqualification.
You can see a full video replay of the game, though it is edited to exclude the fight that led to the game's early conclusion.
"We don't want kids to think it's cool and OK to behave like that," Riverdale Baptist coach Diane Richardson told ESPNRise. "It's not a message we want the kids to have.
"[The no decision result] leaves a black mark on our sport."
While the double disqualification was an embarrassing result for two nationally prominent programs, it was an even bigger black mark for the NCSAA, which hand picks all the teams invited to participate in its national championship tournament.
"If we bring in teams on the basis of what makes the most impressive tournament, we are missing the mark," NCSAA director Nate Hartman told ESPNRise. "This obviously is a really disappointing situation for us. It's great to see great basketball, great teams and great players. But our priority is not to see kids be built up as individuals, it's to honor team play and see that the kids are challenged spiritually. A situation like this undermines our mission."
That being said, it's clear that the NCSAA's drive to organize the most competitive tournament possible always made some kind of an in-game incident more of a possibility … if not an inevitability. Potter's House Christian -- which entered with a 36-1 record -- was trying to make a lasting statement that it deserved a mythical girls basketball national championship by winning the NCSAA title, with tension rising as Riverdale Baptist was able to remain closer than any of the Lady Lions' previous opponents; Potter's House led the title game 68-50 when the game was called off. According to ESPNRise, none of Potter's House's previous 14 foes had even come within 28 points of the Lions.
That tension may have played a key role in the brief fight that led to the premature end of the game, according to Potter's House coach Tony Bannister.
"I hated to see it end that way," Bannister said. "We play hard. Riverdale plays hard. It was going to be intense."
As it turns out, it was so intense that the game never truly ended at all, creating a bizarre situation where a national organization doesn't have a Division 1A girls champion for at least a year.
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