In the moments following McPherson High’s 79-73 McPherson Invitational win over Maize on Jan. 20, an altercation broke out while the two teams were exchanging handshakes. Both coaches were able to intervene quickly, resulting in no physical attacks or suspensions from Saturday’s games.
However, the situation was not limited to the players, as verbal exchanges between fans and Maize players resulted in a suspension for one fan in the championship game.
USD 418 Superintendent of Schools Gordon Mohn would not state the identity of the fan, but did say it was an embarrassment and further disciplinary action would be taken for similar situations in the future.
The events after the game reached a point in which Maize High School has decided to no longer attend the McPherson Invitational in the future. Mohn did say he was disappointed, but also understood the decision made by Maize officials.
“We’ve called and have had conversations with the athletic director and other administers at Maize, but they have decided not to come back to the tournament,” Mohn said. “The feelings they have are valid, and probably if we were in their same position, we’d do the same thing. We’ve lost a great participant to this tournament; a partner, a community that we ought to have good relationships with, and right now that relationship is tarnished.”
The McPherson Invitational has a proud tradition of more than 50 years, and Mohn plans to continue to uphold the values and integrity, not only for McPherson basketball, but for the community as well.
“We have a great place to play basketball in McPherson, both our boys and girls invitational are one of the premiere events in Kansas, and we have an obligation to make sure that reputation continues,” Mohn said. “If we have adults who are going to tarnish that reputation, we are going to take action.”
To Mohn’s knowledge, there were no problems with sportsmanship or character in the championship game between McPherson and Manhattan, Kansas, or in the third place game between Maize and Blue Valley West. Mohn believes school athletics are a place to learn, and the sportsmanship in the following games were an example of how much everyone involved learned from their mistakes.
“If you came on Saturday, you saw sportsmanship at its best,” Mohn said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. “Our students were exemplary in their behavior in the student section.”
There is no word yet on who will replace Maize at future McPherson Invitationals. The Sentinel attempted to contact Maize officials, but they had not responded before press time.
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