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Riordan to play on road with ‘eligible players’ after state basketball tournament brawl

Riordan guard Andrew Hilman (2) dribbles during the second quarter of a West Catholic Athletic League basketball game against Mitty in San Jose, Calif. on Feb. 7, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The Riordan Crusaders have been allowed to remain in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division I Tournament following a brawl at the end of Thursday night’s win over Inderkum, but they will likely enter Saturday’s game against Granada without multiple players, and they’ve lost their privileges to host any remaining games.

“Eligible players from Archbishop Riordan will advance to the March 4 Division I NorCal Boys Basketball Semifinal against Granada High School,” the CIF’s press release said.

There were no details in the release about which players will be eligible.

The game will be played at the originally scheduled time of 7 p.m. at ninth-seeded Granada, in Livermore. Under normal circumstances, Riordan would have hosted as the fourth seed. 

Thursday night’s game was halted with 1:15 remaining after a brawl that started after Achilles Woodson shoved an Inderkum player in the back. Woodson was knocked out after a punch to the back of the head from Inderkum’s Jeremiah Butler. He regained consciousness shortly thereafter and was transported to a nearby hospital.

Riordan guard Achilles Woodson (12) dribbles during the second quarter of a West Catholic Athletic League basketball game against Mitty in San Jose on Feb. 7, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The game is being recorded as a 61-52 Riordan victory, which was the score at the time it was halted.

The CIF press release stated, “The CIF State Office, CIF Central Coast Section, and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section offices are continuing to work with Inderkum and Archbishop Riordan administrations regarding student-athlete game suspensions.”

Riordan is a member of the Central Coast Section (CCS), while Inderkum is a member of the Sac-Joaquin Section (SJS).

Later on Friday afternoon, Riordan sent out a press release with quotes from school president Tim Reardon.

“After an altercation that took place during last night’s basketball game against Inderkum High School, the CIF has made a ruling that all Archbishop Riordan High School players involved in the fight—in any way—will be suspended from play,” he said. “Furthermore, Riordan will forfeit its home court advantage for the semi-final game against Granada.”

Depending on how the CIF defines involvement in the fight, the Crusaders could be without most or all of the five players that were on the court at the time of the fight, as well as any players who left the bench.

Riordan forward Jasir Rencher (4) dribbles during the third quarter of the Crusaders' 66-61 win over Clovis North at the Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament in Gridley, Calif. on Dec. 10, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Riordan’s full roster has just 13 total players. Considering that the Crusaders did not have to forfeit tomorrow’s game, they’ll certainly have at least five available.

“When the Riordan administration spoke with CIF Director, William Chavarin, we were pleased that he shared how the Riordan coaches and other adults did the absolute best they could do under the difficult circumstances,” Reardon continued. “That’s why we are disappointed and confused that we are not being allowed to host the semi-final game.”

Should the Crusaders win, they would be on the road again for Tuesday night’s Northern California Championship against either No. 6 Salesian or No. 10 San Ramon Valley despite being the higher seed.

“CIF Associate Executive Director Brian Seymour explained that the decision to move the game had nothing to do with our ability to provide a safe environment for basketball, stating the CIF decision was punitive because players engaged in behavior that is counter to CIF regulations. The site-change is the consequence of the inappropriate behavior,” Reardon said.

“While the Riordan administration does not fully agree with the sanctions, we do understand that the state governing body had difficult decisions to make, and we accept the result,” the release said. “Last night’s altercation is not indicative of Riordan’s values nor our players’ values. Although we are extremely disappointed that our team is facing these new challenges, I’m confident that our coaches and administrators will make this a learning experience for everyone involved.”

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