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Originally published February 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 7, 2009 at 12:25 AM

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Prep Basketball | Garfield player punched by fan; game at Redmond suspended

It was a blowout turned punch-out. In a matter of seconds, Friday night's KingCo 4A Crest Division boys basketball game between Redmond...

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REDMOND — It was a blowout turned punch-out.

In a matter of seconds, Friday night's KingCo 4A Crest Division boys basketball game between Redmond and fourth-ranked Garfield turned sour.

In a bizarre scene, a Redmond High School senior charged out of the stands and punched Garfield player De'Andre Taylor in the face, spurring punches from both sides as the two teams and fans had to be separated.

The Redmond student who threw the punch reacted to a collision and verbal exchange between Taylor and Redmond player Max Wisman in a game where opposing fans traded derisive chants. Referees had stopped the action to separate the two players when the student ran onto the floor.

The Garfield bench emptied and eight Bulldogs were ejected by referees for leaving the bench area and coming onto the floor in the mayhem. With Garfield leading 50-33, the game was suspended with 5:26 remaining.

School officials, referees and coaches huddled for 15 minutes before concluding the safest thing was to suspend the game.

"We just felt it was too hostile of an environment here, and it created a safety concern for everybody," said Redmond athletic direct John Appelgate. "Garfield was going to be finishing the game with four [actually three] players, because of players leaving the bench. What we've agreed to do is suspend the game, send in video and go with whatever decision WIAA [Washington Interscholastic Activities Association] makes. I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Taylor was one of eight Garfield players ejected. Redmond police confirmed that the student was in custody and police officers took a statement from Taylor while he sat on the Garfield bench.

"My thing is, I don't was to see my son get punished and have to miss our Senior Night [Tuesday against Eastlake] 'cause that guy came out of the crowd," said Andro Benard, Taylor's father and the Bulldogs' girls basketball coach. "He's a four-year varsity player and now they're threatening to not let him play in his Senior Night that he's worked hard for the last four years.

"What if the shoe was on the other foot? I don't think everybody would've reacted this way if Garfield was attacking their fans. I think the police would've been a little more forceful."

Appelgate said the incident reflected poorly on Redmond.

"You represent a community," Appelgate told the Mustangs student section as he addressed them afterward while police simultaneously helped escort Garfield off campus and back home. "It's embarrassing. Those people on the other side have every right to be angry."

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Benard said he had "to stop myself from reacting the wrong way" after watching his son take a haymaker to the face. "We stress to our kids not to act like that. We do that over and over. We come out here where it's like the upper class, in suburbia, and their kids act like that.

"People have the perception of our kids acting that way, but this doesn't happen at Garfield."

Appelgate couldn't predict an ending to the night like that.

"We have four police officers and four administrators here, and you know it was a intense game and you try to plan for every contingency," he said. "And short of putting a fence up, how do you stop something like that?"

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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