SYLVANIA - A simple school rivalry heated up Saturday night when Screven County forfeited a home boys basketball game with Jenkins County after a brawl broke out among fans.
Screven High Principal Brett Warren said the incidents occurred when a Jenkins player was hurt after a hard foul. When the player returned to the court, cheering filled the gym except for some booing coming from a small group of Screven fans sitting on the visitors side.
Unfortunately, Screven's bleachers aren't quite big enough to seat all the home fans on one side and visitors on the other, Warren said, so generally about half the Screven fans sit on one side, and the other half sit on the side with the visitors.
The booing set off a few Jenkins County fans nearby, Warren said, and that got more Screven fans upset, until it looked like there could be some trouble in the stands.
That's when school officials and law enforcement moved into the bleachers, he said.
There was a lot of pushing and shoving and arguing but no punches were thrown, said Sheriff Mike Kile.
Still the ruckus was not dying down right away, Warren said. It got to the point where Sylvania Police were threatening to use a taser, and after that, Warren said, everyone cleared the bleachers.
By that point the game had come to a halt, he said, and the players had left the court to stay out of harm's way.
After trying to get Jenkins and Screven fans on opposite sides of the gym, Warren said there were still heightened emotions among the fans and it appeared that would not change.
Warren said since it wasn't a region game and there were only a few minutes left in the game, he and the other officials felt it best to forfeit the game and get everyone home before the incident escalated any further.
At the end of the night, no one was hurt and no arrests were made, Kile said, but there were a number of parents and students who Warren said were banned from attending any Screven County extracurricular activities.
How long that will be exactly remains unspecified, but Warren said that as long as he is principal, the banned individuals will not be allowed to attend Screven events after the behavior they displayed Saturday night.
Warren said during his 12 years with Screven High, there was never a single problem like Saturday's incident. For now, to prevent any similar incidents, Warren has plans to seat all Screven fans on one side and visitors on the other.
Because of limited seating in the bleachers, selling a limited number of tickets for future games is under consideration, he said.