WINNSBORO — The Orangeburg County Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament held over the winter break appeared to be a quality tournament with several accomplished teams competing, and included several teams from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
These tournaments allow players, like those from Fairfield Central High School, who don’t play as much to get some extra time to prove themselves.
Instead, this year, the tournament proved to be a bust.
In the opening game for Fairfield Central, the Lady Griffins faced Calhoun County and things turned ugly late when a Calhoun County player provoked Fairfield Central’s Tamesha Woodard.
When Woodard attempted to push the Calhoun County player away, several players jumped on her and the ensuing scrap led to the suspension of several Lady Griffins for two games, despite the fact that Fairfield Central players were trying to separate their teammates from opposing girls.
The suspensions included Nyashia Crumblin, who in the video of the game was backing away from a Calhoun player with her arms up in an attempt to get clear.
The S.C. High School League, however, saw the act of putting her arms up as a swing at another player. While the whole incident looks bad for the school, the Lady Griffins have taken ownership of their actions.
Tracie Swilley, principal of Fairfield Central High School, said she was disappointed at the incident, but has been impressed with the team’s response.
“I am very proud how they all were able to say we didn’t do what we needed to do, we didn’t maintain our composure,” Swilley said. “Nobody came back with excuses.”
Especially impressive, she said, was the response and maturity by Tamesha Woodard.
“She came back to me today and showed growth. I am very proud of her,” she said. “She said she reflected on what she could have done, and I got my whole team involved because of my decision.”
Especially disappointing was the tournament organizer’s lack of proper communication. Following each team’s second game in the tournament, coaches Devin Liferidge and Amelia Miller were both notified they would not be returning for a third tournament match.
The initial thought was that the school was being punished for the opening night incident, but that the boys team was being unfairly punished since they had done nothing wrong.
When Fairfield Central Athletic Director Terrell Roach reached out, he was told that only two games were guaranteed by the tournament.
However, the contract signed by both the school and tournament organizers clearly states that three games would be played over the course of the tournament and “if this contract is broken by either party, said party shall forfeit the sum of $500.00 to the other.”
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.