A high school basketball player allegedly sucker punched a referee during a game in what was described by authorities as a “vicious attack.”
The 16-year-old athlete at Excel High School in South Boston had been playing in a game in Cohasset, Mass., on Wednesday when he reportedly pounced on the ref, causing the game to be immediately cancelled, WCVB reported.
Photographer Dan Leahy witnessed the incident and described it in harrowing detail in an interview with Boston 25 News.
“Out of my peripheral I see a South Boston player coming over to the baseline, I assumed to take the ball out,” Leahy said. “In fact, he launched at an official and gave him a full nelson right to the side of the head.”
“And it was vicious, not like he went up and bumped him or anything like that. He went at him with a full fist, it’s a shame,” Leahy added.
The South Boston team had been losing 32-8 at the time of attack, Leahy added.
The boy, who name has not been made public because of his age, is now set to appear at a later date in Quincy Juvenile Court on a charge of assault and battery, according to Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley.
The boy may face additional disciplinary action from the school, Jerleen John, the head of Excel High School, said in a statement.
The Massachusetts State Basketball Officials Association said that incidents like Wednesday’s could be one of the reasons it has been difficult to find referees.
“The shortage of officials, both in our state and nationwide, has been well documented,” the group said in a statement. “And while there may be a myriad of reasons for the crisis, the abhorrent treatment of officials by fans, coaches and players is at the top of the list.”