Basketball: Derby duo pay for part in Jets brawl

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The Independent Online
YORICK WILLIAMS, the England international, and his Derby Storm team-mate, Rico Alderson, have been banned for the rest of the season, after being identified as the leading culprits in the brawl that forced the abandonment of their Budweiser League game at Chester Jets on 31 January.

The players received their suspensions for their involvement in the initial fight with Chester's Shawn Hartley, which halted the game after 28 seconds. Hartley has been banned for seven games for that offence.

But, it is for what followed, when the game had been stopped, that the commission of inquiry imposed the severest penalties in the 12-year history of the league. Williams ran at members of the Chester team seated on their bench, while Alderson ran to other Chester players in a team huddle on court. No other penalties were imposed, making it plain that these three players were considered to be responsible.

Video evidence showed that three players from each team stayed on the benches and did not join in the fighting along with the coaches, Bob Donewald of Derby and Robbie Peers of Chester. Derby's veterans, Tim Lascelles and Martin Ford, attempted to halt the brawl.

More penalties could yet result from a police investigation into an alleged assault which left Alison Troughton, the Chester physio, with a dislocated jaw. A man has been released on police bail until 11 March.

Mike Smith, the League chief executive, said yesterday: "The commission were very thorough in their appraisal and we must learn from the implications of this affair and move forward."

Tony Ironmonger, Derby's general manager, expressed dismay at the length of the bans, but said: "We accept they deserve some punishment, particularly because they had the second thought about going and having another go. Fighting cannot be tolerated, but we are likely to appeal against the length of the bans."

Yet many will feel such a ban was inevitable against the players, who, pending appeals, will play their last game of the season at Leicester on Thursday in the second leg of the League Trophy semi-final. With the ban scheduled to begin on Monday, Williams also loses his place in the England team to play Belarus and Israel next week in the European Championships.