Huge Fight Breaks Out At Basketball Game

SHARON, Pa. (AP) - A crowd turned on police officers attempting to break up a fight at a basketball game between rival schools, slightly injuring at least three officers.

Jesse Wilson, 20, a defensive back for the University of Cincinnati football team, was arrested on aggravated assault and riot charges. Police said more arrests were expected following the Saturday night fight, which involved as many as 100 people.

The fight broke out in a packed gymnasium at Sharon High School with about two minutes remaining in the game between the Sharon Tigers and the Farrell Steelers.

"This has been a pretty heated rivalry for about 50 years, but this is the first time we've seen anything of this scale," said Capt. Michael Menster of the Sharon police department.

There were four officers at the game who waded into the crowd to break up a fight, Menster said.

Officers from five area police departments responded to calls for assistance after the crowd turned on officers, punching and kicking them and grabbing for their guns, he said.

"We had several officers injured, but none of the injuries were major," he said. "We are also not aware of any severe injuries to people attending the game."

The game was called off and police cleared the gym, but fighting broke out in a different area, and then continued in the emergency room of Sharon Regional Hospital, where some people went for treatment. Police were called to the hospital to restore order, hospital spokesman Ed Newmeyer said.

Police on Monday were conducting interviews and reviewing video of the fight and planned to file petitions in juvenile court if they identify others involved in the fracas, Menster said.

Wilson, a strong safety for Cincinnati, faces charges that include aggravated assault, rioting and resisting arrest. He was an all-state defensive back at Farrell and is now a criminal justice major at Cincinnati.

Wilson tried to prevent police from getting to the fight and then attacked two officers, police said. He posted bond and was released from the Mercer County Jail on Monday, jail officials said.

Brian McCann, assistant sports information director at Cincinnati, said school officials are aware of the arrest and were reviewing the incident.

"We have several policies regarding the arrest of players and we are trying to determine which this falls under," McCann said.

Richard Rossi, Sharon's superintendent, said the Farrell and Sharon rivalry is a "long-standing tradition."

"In my 31 years as an administrator and an educator, I've seen nothing of this magnitude," he said. "I'm thankful that no one was seriously injured."

Sharon is near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)