The Gainesville boys basketball team will not play in next week’s Lanierland basketball tournament after getting suspended from a holiday tournament in Kentucky on Monday.
Gainesville High athletic director Billy Kirk confirmed Tuesday that the team will be suspended for two games, and will not participate in the annual Hall County tournament, which will begin its 56th year of play on Dec. 28 at Johnson High.
This will be the first time in tournament history that the Gainesville boys will not participate in Lanierland.
The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that a fight during a consolation round game Monday afternoon between members of the Red Elephants and a team from Miami Senior (Fla.) prompted officials to suspend both teams. The teams were playing in the Forcht Bank King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic in Fairdale, Ky.
The Gainesville (Ga.)-Miami Senior game was called in first quarter after a fight. Both teams sent home, KOB director Lloyd Garnder said.— Jason Frakes (@kyhighs) December 21, 2015
Wanda Creel, the Gainesville City School System superintendent, said in a press release Tuesday: “We are disappointed that the situation in a competitive environment became disorderly. We support and value teammates standing together. However, we believe that disputes should be solved in a manner that are non-confrontational and productive. Georgia High School Association rules state any players removed from a game can not participate in the next two competitive games. We all have made mistakes. Our belief is that our Gainesville High School Boys Basketball Team can move forward and respect and honor the difficult lessons learned from this experience.”
According to the Courier-Journal, Gainesville led 20-10 with 1:26 left in the first quarter when the incident began. The tournament director told The Courier-Journal that he had contacted members of both the Georgia and Florida associations and was told that both teams would be suspended for two games.
Bylaw 2.72 of the Georgia High School Association constitution states that the period of suspension resulting from an ejection will expire "after the individual has been withheld from the next two (2) scheduled contests at the level at which the ejection occurred."
The Red Elephants are ranked No. 3 in Georgia by Maxpreps. Gainesville High basketball coach Benjie Wood did not immediately return a call for comment.
George Morgan, the official tournament director and East Hall High athletic director, said in an email that “conversations are under way” on whether Gainesville would be replaced in the Lanierland bracket.
Officials could potentially reseed teams and/or add a new team to replace Gainesville.
The Lanierland tournament has played with out-of-county teams in the past. The Forsyth County girls basketball team won the championship in 1965 and the Jefferson girls basketball team has played in recent years.