By Colleen Kane and Mike Helfgot
9:01 PM CST, January 18, 2013
Simeon principal Sheldon House told the Tribune on Friday that access to a game between the Wolverines and Julian at the high school was limited and that the media was not allowed inside the gym.
House said he made that decision in light of what happened Wednesday at Chicago State University, where 17-year-old Morgan Park student Tyrone Lawson was shot and killed in a parking lot outside the gym after a game between Morgan Park and Simeon.
Just before Lawson was killed, players from Simeon and Morgan Park were involved in some pushing and shoving during the postgame handshake inside the gym. Police arrested two suspects and recovered a gun shortly after Lawson was shot in the back.
House said he made the decision to limit access to Friday’s game in light of those events, and “so they don't have to deal with questions and articles about the situation the other night.”
Three Chicago Police cars sat in the lot outside of the gym at the school Friday.
Chicago Public Schools spokesman Frank Shuftan told the Tribune that the decision was up to the school.
“The school felt very strongly they did not want media in the school today,” Shuftan said. “I can’t tell them how to run their school.”
Shuftan said House “was very insistent that no media be allowed.”
Simeon coach Robert Smith told the Tribune by phone Friday afternoon that he was instructed not to speak with the media by CPS and House on Thursday morning.
Triton College coach Steve Christiansen said he was in gym for the game, which was won by Simeon 67-36 behind 27 points and nine rebounds from Duke-bound senior Jabari Parker.
“About 100 people were in the gym. I almost didn't get let in,” Christiansen said. “They didn't let a lady in behind me. It seemed like just family members.”
Vernell Pondexter, a dean at Julian, said family members of Julian players were allowed in the gym and that there were some Simeon students in attendance. He added that his school doesn’t allow fans from opposing teams to attend games.
“I think it’s a good idea. We do it at our school,” Pondexter said. “We only allow family members and our students to come to the game.”
According Shuftan, two players were suspended for one game each for their involvement in Wednesday’s altercation.
Per Chicago Public Schools policy, Shuftan did not name the students who have been suspended. Shuftan said the Public League will make crowd control adjustments as needed for upcoming games. Communications regarding sportsmanship and mentoring are being sent to athletic directors and coaches, he said.
The location of the Jan. 26 meeting between Simeon and Young, likely to draw several thousand fans, is being reviewed, according to Shuftan. The game was originally set to be played at Chicago State. Sites for the Public League semifinals and final also will be examined.
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