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Scuffle stops Chiefland, Fort White basketball game

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By Claude Lewis

The Chiefland and Fort White boys varsity basketball teams were wrapped up in a tight, competitive district game last Thursday night, Jan. 10.

The visitors from Columbia clutched on to a two-point lead with 2:01 left, when all a sudden things exploded.

A push, a punch, more punches, benches emptied, and a full-blown donnybrook ensued.

When order was finally restored, both teams were sent to their locker rooms, and the referees said enough was enough.

The game was called, the gym was cleared, leaving Fort White a winner for only the second time this season, 43-41.

Chiefland coach Mark Lundy, who had a bump on his noggin trying to separate two combatants, looked bewildered after the wild night.

"It's embarrassing, but they're high school kids," he said.

Chiefland saw its record drop to 7-10 with the loss, but what's worse, almost the entire varsity team was suspended indefinitely for its role in the melee.

"Everyone's supsended who left the bench,"Chiefland Athletic Director Chris Wilson said. "When you're ejected, the minumum is one week."

The lone varsity player not involved in the scuffle was Cantrell Richardson, who was sent to the locker room during a timeout for team disciplinary reasons.

Wilson said that junior varsity players would move up to varsity to play however many games necessary.

"It's a stiff fine to forfeit –something like $250 a game,"Wilson said. "We'll play with the JVs. They may play three games."

The JVs played last Friday's home game against Dixie County and Tuesday's game at Trenton.

Chiefland also faces a fine from the Florida High School Activities Association.

"It's usually $500 to $750,"Wilson said.

The fight began when Chiefland's Travis Donald and Fort White's Matt Milatz faced off after a foul at Chiefland's end.

In an instant, players from both teams rushed the floor. Several scuffles broke out and it took a minute before things settled down.

A City of Chiefland policeman on duty called for backup.

Wilson explained the procedure following fisticuffs.

"The referees already filed a report,"he said. "We'll file a report and Fort White will file a report. Then we'll wait to hear from the FHSAA."

The fight marred a very competitive game.

Chiefland had led for most of the affair, but Fort White made a fourth quarter run and finally took the lead just before fists of fury went flying.

Chiefland ran out to a 5-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Eugene Carter and a layup by Tommy Sheffield.

Chiefland led 10-7 after one quarter.

Milatz scored the first two buckets of the second quarter to give Fort White an 11-10 edge.

Chiefland went on a 13-3 run to go up 23-14. The scoring was balanced, as Stephen Davis and Marquis Jackson had four apiece and Reggie McClendo threw in a 3-pointer.

Chiefland led 27-19 at the half.

The third quarter was streaky. Fort White closed to 27-23, but Chiefland scored seven straight as Davis sank a free throw, Carter drove for a bucket, Donald swooped to the hoop and Sheffield converted a layup.

Chiefland had an 11-point pad at 34-23.

But all of a sudden, it disappered as Fort White scored nine straight.

Chiefland repeled the rally and clutched to a 41-34 lead after a trey by McClendon.

Once again, the lead evaporated, as Fort White scored nine straight points to take its first lead since early in the second quarter. Milatz, who had an incredible 15 blocks on the night, have five of the nine points. He sank a free throw to make it 43-41. Chiefland brought the ball up the floor and missed, Milatz grabbed the rebound and then all of a sudden, things were out of control as the two teams rumbled.