Archbishop Riordan will get to play in the NorCal Division I semifinals — but which players will be available is yet to be determined after a brawl ended their quarterfinal game on Thursday night.
With just over a minute left in the game and Riordan leading by nine points, an Inderkum-Sacramento foul to stop the clock led to pushing, and eventually, punches that sent one player to the hospital.
In a statement just before noon on Friday, the California Interscholastic Federation announced that fourth-seeded Riordan will be able to play against Granada on Saturday night.
However, the CIF said that lower-seeded Granada will now be the host of Saturday’s game instead of Riordan, which was the highest seed left of the four NorCal semifinalists.
The CIF also confirmed to Bay Area News Group that Riordan would not be allowed to host any more games in the NorCal Division I playoffs, despite being the highest-seeded team left — meaning that if Riordan were to win on Saturday and advance to the NorCal Division I championship game, it would have to travel to the winner of the game between sixth seed Salesian and No. 10 seed San Ramon Valley.
The CIF could have disqualified Riordan entirely from the playoffs, but instead is allowing the Crusaders to continue playing — albeit with some players suspended. The statement said they are still working to determine which players would be suspended.
The decision comes less than 24 hours after the highly intense and emotional game turned physical late. Riordan was beating Inderkum-Sacramento 61-52 with 1:15 remaining on the clock when Inderkum committed a hard foul on Riordan sophomore Jasir Rencher. Some of Rencher’s teammates didn’t like it and a hard shove from a Riordan player set things into motion.
An Inderkum player then landed a punch in the head area of Riordan senior Achilles Woodson, who was then tossed to the floor and appeared to hit his head. He lay on the ground for several minutes and had to be helped to his feet. Though he appeared dizzy, he was able to walk off the floor.
Shortly after that, the same Inderkum player punched another Riordan player, again in the head area.
Inderkum’s entire bench and at least one Riordan player left the bench and went onto the floor during the brawl. Some spectators came out of the stands and onto the court as mayhem ensued. The fighting continued for a few minutes until Inderkum ushered its staff and players out of the building.
Riordan officials made an announcement asking everybody to leave and several officers from the San Francisco Police Department arrived on the scene.
Here’s video of the incident between Riordan and Inderkum from the @NFHSNetwork broadcast. @JMastrodonato‘s report linked below.@DarrenSabedra @lefkow @JensenPhil @GReeves23 @WakeOfWeek @AlexSimonSports @MikeNowels
— Joseph Dycus (@joseph_dycus) March 3, 2023
Riordan coach Joe Curtin has not responded on Friday to a message left by Bay Area News Group.
Granada coach Quaran Johnson, reached 15 minutes before the CIF announced its decision, said he had heard several possible scenarios – suspension, disqualification, or having the game moved to a neutral site.
He planned to prepare for Riordan until told otherwise.
“I’ve heard a bunch of different things about it,” Johnson said. “But I haven’t heard anything definite.”
He called the incident unfortunate, noting that two of his own players served a three-game suspension for leaving the bench area at a holiday tournament in Southern California. The players had to go through a sportsmanship protocol before returning.
“You’ve just got to wait to see what happens,” Johnson said. “But I know how they stick to those rules.”
Granada, the ninth seed, advanced Thursday with an overtime upset of top-seeded Clovis West. The victorious players found out about the brawl between Riordan and Inderkum in the locker room.
“Film started to get posted and sent around, video sent around,” Johnson said. “My thoughts go to the safety of that one kid and how he’s doing. It was an unfortunate scene. I know how much these games mean to the families and the players, especially the seniors. It’s their last go at it.
“Temperatures can get flared up and guys make unfortunate decisions. I understand that. It’s unfortunate that it had to end that way. It was such a great battle up to that point.”
While Riordan’s season will not end because of the fracas, the Crusaders will likely be missing multiple players.
In addition to figuring out the suspensions, the CIF said it is also working with both the Central Coast Section and with the Sac-Joaquin Section to determine “additional sanctions that may be levied on both member schools due to the serious nature of this unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Earlier this school year, a football game between Granada and Riordan in San Francisco ended with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter after a Riordan running back/linebacker suffered a concussion when he was slammed to the turf by a Granada player.
The Riordan player was removed from the field on a stretcher and transported to a hospital, according to the San Francisco Standard.
Riordan coach Adhir Ravipati called it a cheap shot and the player was home resting the next day.
Jason Mastrodonato contributed to this report.