Boys playoff basketball game moved to earlier time due to concern for violence


Photo courtesy of Sanir Byanjankar

Seniors Immanuel Harper and Jackson Van Wagener during the Wildcats regular season game against RM. Dealing with injuries the Wildcats lost this game 62-50. However, they have since gotten healthy and look to get revenge on Friday in the first round of the playoffs.

The boys varsity basketball team was set to play their first round playoff game Friday against Richard Montgomery. The game was originally scheduled for 6 p.m., but Thursday night Principal Jennifer Baker announced the game had been moved to 3:30 p.m.
Tickets were sold out and despite Richard Montgomery having one of the largest gyms in the county; the seats were expected to be full. However, the new start time makes it very difficult for many fans, especially parents, to get to the game, because of work or other previous obligations.
Starting seniors Jack Weiss and Immanuel Harper have played basketball for WJ all four years of high school and were disheartened to hear the news.
“The purpose was just to make the game not as hype, a lot of my friends said they can’t come now, and a few of my teammates’ parents can’t even come. It’s also at 25% capacity, it’s unfair when every other school gets full capacity. It could be our last game ever and it’s watered down, it just feels unfair,” Harper said.
Weiss shares Harper’s sentiments, but in an even stronger sense because he won’t have all the support he usually does at his games.
“My mom can’t even go to the game now because she has work, it might be my last basketball game ever and she won’t be there for it,” Weiss said.
With many fans, students, coaches, players and parents complaining, Baker gave an explanation for the new changes.
“RM staff was extremely concerned about things that were being posted on social media in relation to events that took place at a WJ and RM hockey game two weeks ago. This included RM students going to administration and saying they were worried and just a lot of things that caused an unusual amount of concern on the part of the administration,” Baker said.
On Feb. 11, WJ and RM students were kicked out of Rockville Ice Rink by police after fighting broke out between the two schools during a varsity hockey game.
According to Baker, the RM staff wanted to limit the game to adults only at first, but after meeting with the head of security of MCPS, Dr. Jeff Sullivan and many other administrators and MCPS security officials, they landed on the earlier game time, allowing students to come, and limiting attendance.
Baker said she understands that these changes are frustrating and upsetting.
“People don’t understand all of the efforts I was making to make sure that kids could actually go see our kids play and the compromise we finally landed on with RM staff. I was just trying to help make sure that our students and parents could go…It will be a nice, safe game and we’ll make sure that the students cheer loud so our students have fans there,” Baker said.