INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Jan. 19, 2016)- Shyra Ely-Gash wasn't at Ben Davis High School Saturday night as the girls varsity basketball team welcomed their rivals from Pike High School, but her phone kept going off. The notifications she was receiving were to inform her of an in-game fight between the two schools.
Ely-Gash is a Ben Davis alumna and she was awarded the prestigious Miss Basketball award in 2001. She then went on to play college basketball at the University of Tennessee and then played several seasons in the WNBA.
She is also serving as a brand ambassador for the Final Four being played in Indianapolis. Ely-Gash will host several events throughout the weekend, including a fashion show featuring local and national celebrities.
"I definitely hate it for the program and my school," said Ely-Gash.
Ely-Gash says it was hard to watch the brawl from Saturday. Videos posted to social media show players, parents, coaches, fans and even police officers spilling onto the court.
"You are protective of your program and your school and you want it to be represented in the best light all the time," said Ely-Gash.
Monday,The IHSAA canceled the remainder of the season for both schools and sidelined them for the state tournament. Both programs will be on probation next season.
"One bad move, one impulse or one moment of weakness and it can not only affect yourself but your teammates, your coaches and your school," said Ely-Gash.
Parents have mixed reactions on the punishment.
"The punishment was kind of harsh because the kids in the community need basketball," said Kendall Riggs.
"The first thing I think about is the school faculty and then the parents and if they could have done anything to prevent this," said Andrew Phinisee.
The former WNBA standout says she will meet with the Ben Davis players Wednesday and hopefully use this fight as a teaching moment.
"For me it’s how can we make this a positive and how we can move forward and how can we can take this and grow from it," said Ely-Gash.
There has been no indication on whether or not the schools involved will contest the IHSAA sanctions.
No word yet if either school plans on contesting the sanctions.