Multiple 2-game suspensions for incident at girls basketball game

Madeline Westbeld is a sophomore standout for the Firebirds. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Madeline Westbeld is a sophomore standout for the Firebirds. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

A skirmish that broke out between the Fairmont and Trotwood-Madison girls high school basketball teams on Wednesday night has resulted in the suspension of eight combined players.

The encounter broke out with about four minutes remaining in the game at Fairmont’s Trent Arena between the Greater Western Ohio Conference teams and involved players and fans who went on court.

The game was halted and called at that point. Fairmont was awarded a 52-26 victory, the score at the time of the incident.

GWOC commissioner Eric Spahr said the unnamed players all will serve two-game suspensions, effective immediately. Neither Fairmont coach Lacy Romine nor Trotwood coach Henry Benton was disciplined.

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“It was an unfortunate incident and we’ll learn from it and move forward,” Spahr said. “This was all player-related. The incident was not as bad as perceived. The impact of this was based on players leaving the bench. That’s the real issue.”

As per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, any basketball player ejected from a contest also will be suspended the next two games.

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Trotwood was 5-0 going into the game, which served as an early-season crossover GWOC matchup. The Rams averaged an area-best 84.2 points and outscored opponents by a combined average of nearly 52 points. They also featured one of the area’s best players in Shai McGruder, a senior transfer from Wayne who signed with New Mexico State in November.

Fairmont, now 6-3, has a mostly underclass lineup that also is being recruited, especially 6-1 sophomore Maddie Westbeld, the younger sister of former Fairmont standout Kathryn Westbeld who’s now a senior starter at the University of Notre Dame. It was the fourth straight win for Fairmont.

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Spahr said the incident was triggered when two opposing players entangled after going for a loose ball. The suspensions resulted when other players left their designated bench areas.

"Good sportsman-like behavior is an expectation of our student athletes and under no circumstance do we condone this type of behavior,” Fairmont principal Tyler Alexander said in a statement. “Following OHSAA's investigation of the incident, we will discipline our student athletes who were involved according to GWOC and OHSAA bylaws."

Neither of the coaches nor athletic directors, Guy Fogle at Trotwood and Fairmont’s Chris Weaver, responded when this news outlet reached out for comments and more information.

“The district is gathering as many facts as possible and looks forward to the official report from game officials and the OHSAA,” Trotwood-Madison City Schools superintendent Kevin A. Bell said in a statement. “Our girls basketball players and coaches will continue to demonstrate sportsmanlike attitudes, actions and behaviors against Fairmont and other competitors moving forward.”

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A GWOC National East Division I team, Fairmont is idle through the holiday. The Firebirds’ next scheduled games are Jan. 3 against visiting Beavercreek and Jan. 10 against visiting Lebanon.

Trotwood is the defending GWOC American South champion and ranks among the area’s best D-II teams. The Rams’ next scheduled game is Friday against Indianapolis Cathedral as part of the Indianapolis Manuel High School Extravaganza. After that Trotwood is scheduled to play Bogan (Ill.) in the Braggin Rights Classic at Cincinnati Winton Woods on Dec. 28.

Fairmont also handed then-unbeaten Trotwood its first loss last season, 56-34, snapping the Rams’ seven-game win streak. The teams did not play in the 2014-16 seasons.

“It was great camaraderie and sportsmanship between the administrations of both schools,” Spahr said. “This was an isolated incident. It was between two individuals who got tangled up and got carried away. From that incident, we had the unfortunate ladies who left the bench.”

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