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Controversy rages after on-court punch
The Century League is one of the most competitive girls basketball leagues in the county, but things went over the line when Canyon played at Brea Olinda last week.
Brea Olinda's Arin Perry was ejected in the fourth quarter for punching Canyon's Michele Ballestero in the face during the Ladycats' 52-45 victory on Jan. 22. The CIF-SS rules call for a one-game suspension when a player gets ejected, so Perry missed Friday's game against Esperanza. She was back in the lineup for the Ladycats' highly anticipated game against Troy on Saturday.
"It just doesn't seem like the punishment fits the crime," Canyon coach Matt Dale said. "I'm not sure that CIF had sucker-punches in mind when they wrote the rule, but it seems absurd to me that Arin was playing a big game on Saturday night, just four days after throwing her punch.
"That being said, teams and schools have the opportunity to address the issue on their own and extend a suspension, though obviously the leadership at Brea didn't feel she had done anything to deserve doing so. I disagree with them. That sort of act has no place in high school sports, or anywhere for that matter, and it should be treated as such."
Brea Olinda coach Kim Cram-Torres acknowledged there was some rough play between the two teams and noted that Ballestero had received a technical for a flagrant foul prior to the incident.
"There were a few previous incidents throughout the game that had occurred and kind of escalated, and that was the result," Cram-Torres said. "Matt spoke very clearly about his kid's role in it, so that's really all it is. Obviously, we spoke with Arin about it and handled it the way we were supposed to and that was it."
(After the game Dale said of Ballestero's actions: "There's nothing in the rule book that says you can't be a (nuisance). I give Michele full credit for being an agitator.")
On Monday, Dale criticized the Brea Olinda administration for how it handled the situation the night of the punch and in the days since then.
"Shortly after the punch, some adult Brea fans were taunting and harassing Michele with remarks along the lines that she deserved it, asking if she was gonna cry, and implying that someone else may hit her again," Dale said.
He said he informed Brea Olinda principal Jerry Halpin of the comments, and that Halpin spoke to the fans in question, but Halpin allowed the fans to remain in the gym for the boys' game later that night.
Dale added: "It's tough to imagine this incident being handled much more poorly than it has been. Brea has an incredible girls basketball tradition, and the punch and the handling of it are a disgrace to that tradition."
Cram-Torres said Brea Olinda followed the proper procedures.
"I think Arin paid the price, and a one-game suspension was sufficient, especially given her citizenship," Cram-Torres said. "If Arin is a kid that is a bad citizen and represents herself poorly then there might have been more. But I think that for Arin and the kid that she is, that was adequate. No one felt worse about it than her."
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