By Matthew De George
It’s telling that the biggest spark in the fourth quarter Friday night came after whistles were blown and security had to come onto the court at Hershey High School.
For 30-plus minutes, Springfield and Mechanicsburg showed plenty of fight in the PIAA Class 5A opening-round game, but not much was geared toward each team positioning to win. And when tensions boiled over, with some questionable officiating, Springfield ended up on the wrong end of a 49-45 decision.
The game pivoted with 45 seconds to play and Mechanicsburg leading 44-42 when Springfield’s Ja’Den McKenzie appeared to tie up Mechanicsburg’s Kyle Scheib under the Wildcats’ basket. The struggle extended beyond the whistle, a little pushing and shoving ensued and players from both teams came together as security rushed to restore calm.
After deliberation, the refereeing crew from York assessed flagrant fouls to McKenzie and fellow Cougar Mike Webb, who entered the fracas with a two-handed shove into the back of a Wildcat. Webb was ejected; McKenzie was announced as ejected, though Springfield coach Kevin McCormick said he merely subbed out the junior forward to allow him to cool off.