Anthony Viera has watched nearly every York High boys’ basketball game since 2009.
With District 3 barring most of the public from the Bearcats’ Class 5-A third-place game Thursday, Viera and a handful of other York High fans decided to tailgate. The game was closed to the public in response to a fight between fans that followed York High’s game against Muhlenberg on Monday.
They rented a generator, brought a television and watched the livestream provided by District 3 in the parking lot next to the school. They even had leftover pizza for some players following York High’s 86-68 win over Northern York.
“I’ve been to every game, even at Allentown,” said Viera, a 2009 York High graduate and York City resident. “I love the community, the friends I’ve met going to games and the people. It’s a great environment.”
The skirmishes after the Muhlenberg game led to four adults and two students — one from each school — facing charges. No players from either team were involved in the altercation.
Viera believes the decision to bar the public — aside from players’ parents, security and officials from the schools and the PIAA — from the contest wasn’t fair to the York High and Northern York communities.
“I understand the people who were involved in the trouble, but I don’t feel as though everybody should’ve been blamed,” Viera said. “They got who was wrong, and they should’ve been excluded.”
York High point guard Jaevon Woodyard was among the players who visited the tailgate after the game.
“It’s actually amazing they did this,” Woodyard said. “Nobody could be allowed in the school, but fans still came out here in the cold and supported us. It makes you feel like you’re in the NBA.”
Most York High fans: Woodyard said he disagrees with the way some people attribute the bad actions of a few people to the entire York High community.
“There were a couple of people who messed it up for everyone,” Woodyard said. “But the majority of fans, 95 percent, are people who love us. … To categorize us in one category like we’re all bad people is bad, because all these people are good people. They just want to see us succeed.”
Viera agrees with Woodyard, adding he believes decisions such as barring the public from the York High game are due to a false “city mentality.”
“People say, ‘Oh, the city is bad,’ but when you get to sit down and talk to people here, you realize that these people are nice, decent, courteous people who will help anybody,” Viera said. “Even with violence here in the city. It’s not everybody who is committing crimes. It’s small groups of people who are the problem. You can’t blame everybody for that, and if you do, you’re just not intelligent. To look at a whole group of people and say, ‘These people are bad,’ that’s not how the world works anymore.”
Different atmosphere: With about only 100 people in attendance, head coach Clovis Gallon Sr. said the crowd reminded him of a home scrimmage. That is what he stressed to his players about how to deal with the unusual atmosphere.
The third-year head coach said he was “appreciative” of the York High and York City School District faculty and staff who attended the game.
“A lot of the faculty and staff came and watched the players play,” Gallon Sr. said. “There were emails all day going around in the district to come out and support the kids.”
Senior class: The victory was the final home game for six York High seniors — Woodyard, Marquise McClean, Clovis Gallon Jr., Dayvon Cortez, Edward Minter and Seth Bernstein, who had to sit out after being ejected in the Muhlenberg game.
“We knew it was going to be our last time (in the York gym), so we wanted to come out and play hard one last time on that court,” Woodyard said.
The only senior, aside from Bernstein, who didn’t score in double digits was Woodyard, who led the Bearcats with six assists. McClean led the team with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. Gallon Jr. had 19 points and five rebounds. Minter chipped in with 14 points and five boards, while Cortez scored 10 points off the bench.
“I was really proud of them,” Gallon Sr. said. “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching this group for almost 10 years of their lives. For them to be able to go out as winners on this floor is great.”
State playoffs: The Bearcats’ next game will be Friday, March 8, in the PIAA tournament against the No. 3 seed from District 7, either Chartiers Valley or Penn Hills. The contest’s site and time are to be determined.
“This school has never won a state title, and these guys have an opportunity to be able to walk out and say they’re the first ones to do it,” Gallon Sr. said.
Northeastern 56, Garden Spot 38: At Manchester, the Bobcats won the seventh-place game in the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs.
The No. 11 seed Bobcats improved to 15-11, while No. 12 seed Garden Spot dropped to 16-12.
Nate Wilson led Northeastern with 19 points, while Quay Mulbah added 12 points.
Both teams are headed to the state playoff. The Bobcats will face the District 7 (WPIAL) runner-up on Friday, March 8, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.