By Paul Honda
So what really happened after the Farrington-Castle girls basketball game on Friday?
Seems that aside from Farrington’s 65-50 win, nobody will really know exactly what ensued in the skirmish that led to punches being thrown by a player on each team during what is normally a peaceful, uneventful post-game handshake ritual.
This morning’s story delves a bit into the situation, which led Farrington to forfeit its game with Roosevelt on Saturday and had Castle suspending a player for one game.
According to Castle’s eyewitnesses, including a scorekeeper, Farrington guard Lucky Crichton struck Castle’s Nicole Aberilla with a punch, and Aberilla responded with a swing of her own that missed. According to Farrington eyewitnesses, including senior Sofia Folaumahina, it was Aberilla who threw the first punch.
Either way, Aberilla was left with a bloody lip.
Castle coach Jeff McKeown saw Crichton lean forward to throw the punch, but wasn’t absolutely sure if it was the first punch. Farrington coach Caroline Tatupu was tending to a player who had been injured during the game and didn’t see the incident.
“Our girl told me with 3 minutes left that 23 (Crichton) was calling her out,” McKeown said. “I didn’t even notice anything, but a couple of our players said (Farrington) was talking smack. I said, ‘Just play over it.’ But if I knew there was something to worry about, I would’ve walked with them in the (handshake) line.”
Tatupu realizes the truth may never shake out.
“It’s always going to be our word against their word,” she said.
In any event, neither coach condoned the incident. McKeown and administrators suspended Aberilla for one game.
Farrington administrators suspended Crichton for one game — the matchup with Roosevelt.
Tatupu was not entirely content and chose to have her entire team sit out in solidarity with Crichton, necessitating forfeiture of the game.
She added that there was some rough play — Crichton said she had been elbowed by Aberilla during the game — but communication with officials went unheeded.
“She told my assistant (Steven Leopoldo) that the other girl was playing dirty, and he told the referee,” Tatupu said.
As Tatupu and her team stood their ground, so did Farrington athletic director Harold Tanaka, who knows plenty about enforcing discipline. He is also the OIA’s football coordinator.
“I give ’em a ton of credit if that’s the case,” McKeown said of Farrington’s decision to forfeit. “I was afraid they’d play (yesterday) and decide what to do on Monday.”
On the other side, though, there’s at least one claim from Castle that Folaumahina, a 6-foot center, used a verbal threat in an attempt to intimidate the smaller Knights during the game.
All of the bumps and trash talking may have added up, culminating in the post-game incident. All in all, there just were no winners.
Roosevelt, which had lost at Farrington nine days ago, wanted a chance to face the Govs again. In addition, Saturday was going to be Senior Night for the Rough Riders, a tradition they celebrate with plenty of gusto. Not this season, unfortunately.
McKeown has been head coach at Castle for 13 seasons. The only other similar incident he recalled happened in 2005 near the end of a Castle game with Waipahu. That incident involved taunting between two players and a punch inadvertently inflicted on a peaceable third party with 3 seconds left.
As for the Lady Governors, who are ranked No. 4 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, it’s time to move on after a bizarre weekend.
“I did think about the fairness to the other kids on our team, but we feel we haven’t been getting the support we need from administration,” Tatupu said. “It’s more than just wins and losses. We needed to take a stand together.”