Season saved: judge rules St. Thomas More basketball can play, all players eligible despite on-court fight

Season saved: judge rules St. Thomas More basketball can play, all players eligible despite on-court fight

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- St. Thomas More's season was saved in the courtroom. St. Thomas More will now play Brown Deer Thursday night at 7 p.m. at St. Thomas More High School.

Wednesday a Milwaukee County judge granted St. Thomas More's request to overturn every varsity basketball player's suspension after a fight in the team's game Friday night.


That means the top-seeded Cavaliers are back in the playoffs, and every player is now eligible to play.

There was as much drama in the fourth-floor courtroom as there has been on the court this year. There are still a lot of logistics to be worked out, but St. Thomas More is alive.

Moments before the courthouse closed down, Judge Hannah Dugan said, "My ruling is that no other games can be played until this game is played."

After the players quietly filed out of the courtroom and into the hallway, there was a team huddle, a prayer, then fist pumps and hugs.

Head Basketball Coach John Hoch said, "Just really happy for our players right now, and that's all I'm thinking about. Especially our four seniors."

The temporary restraining order brings St. Thomas More back from the dead: instead of forfeiting to Brown Deer, the judge ruled that game must be played.

In court, St. Thomas More's attorneys argued the blanket suspension for all players was wrong because not all players left the bench, and not all engaged in the fight.

As the video played for the judge, the attorney showed some of the players that were suspended were actually walking away or sitting down.

Attorney Keith Bruett said, "He did exactly what you would hope a kid would do: stay away from it, move behind the bench, go to a safe spot so you can't get involved in the melee."

The decision creates a logistical headache as the WIAA works to reschedule.

WIAA Executive Director Stephanie Hauser said she's, "Waiting for clarification from our legal counsel as to what this actually means for the rest of the tournament series for the boys."

Originally, Brown Deer advanced past St. Thomas More via forfeit, and was set to play Dominican Wednesday night.

Brown Deer fan Jamar Lampley said he, "Came all the way down here for nothing. There was no communication with the game being canceled. And I came to support my son."

And Brown Deer fan Melvin Pugh said, "They waited until the last minute, I didn't find out until just now that Brown Deer wasn't going to play tonight."

Now Brown Deer must prepare for #1 seed St. Thomas More, while Dominican waits for the winner.

Late Wednesday evening, the WIAA said in a statement "The WIAA staff is working with all teams involved to adjust the schedule accordingly per the judge's ruling."

Hoch said, "We have to get through three rounds, I guess, to get to the state tournament. And that has to be done by Saturday. So I think it would have to be Thursday, Friday, Saturday."

The judge's ruling means the entire temporary restraining order is granted. That means Wednesday night's game was delayed, St. Thomas More's forfeit was overturned, and the blanket suspensions were overturned. So every player will be eligible when they take the court Thursday night.

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