Charges filed in brawl investigation: Cape basketball player arrested, warrants issued for two others

A police officer restrains a spectator at the Cape Henlopen-Smyrna High Henlopen Conference Northern Division title game Thursday in Milford, where a fight broke out during the fourth quarter. The image is from a video of the brawl. (Delaware State News/Tim Mastro)

DOVER — Milford police arrested a Cape Henlopen player and issued arrest warrants for two individuals following the fight that stopped Thursday night’s high school basketball game between Cape and Smyrna.

Late Friday afternoon, Milford Police announced the arrest of Cape basketball player Randy Rickards, 18, of Milton.

He was charged with disorderly conduct and third-degree assault.

Authorities said Mr. Rickards immediately turned himself in to law enforcement when he learned of an arrest warrant.

He was presented at Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach, where a $1,000 unsecured bail was set.

Mr. Rickards was scheduled to appear at the Kent County Common Pleas at a later date, police said.

Two other arrest warrants were filed and police said further information would be released when available.

Milford Sgt. Robert Masten said Cape Henlopen and Smyrna high schools were both assisting with the investigation.

Delaware State Police and Harrington Police officers also responded to the Thursday night fight and helped Milford officers assigned to the game and other officers who responded from the patrol division.

The contest, which was played at Milford High, was to determine the champion of the Henlopen Conference Northern Division after the Vikings and Eagles tied for the title.

Friday night’s Henlopen Conference championship game, between Smyrna and Woodbridge, was played as scheduled at Dover High.

As is its custom, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association allowed the Milford police and school adminstrations from both Cape Henlopen and Smyrna to investigate the incident and hand out any punishments.

“The DIAA and its membership are working on additional safeguards to help prevent future incidents,” DIAA executive director Tommie Neubauer said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Officials were able to look at a number of videos that were taken of the brawl.

Seaford High Athletic Director Jerry Kobasa, a Henlopen Conference representative, said only one Cape Henlopen player will be disciplined.

“We studied video last night, gave Tommie (Neubauer) our results and the officials said the same thing,” said Mr. Kobasa. “Milford was outstanding with providing video which showed no other players were involved. Milford police did an outstanding job of restoring order.”

He said students from various schools were on tape involved but only one of them was a player.

Cape Henlopen superintendent Bob Fulton also issued a statement on the matter Friday afternoon prior to the Milford police announcing their arrest and warrants.

“We are extremely concerned and disappointed in the environment at last night’s basketball game as well as the ensuing altercation,” he said. “We are committed to addressing negative actions involving any of our students/athletes.

‘We are also committed to working with others to determine what can be done differently in the future so that last night’s events are not repeated. We are currently investigating all aspects of the incident to determine any disciplinary consequences and/or outcomes.”

The incident began with 4:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and Smyrna leading 61-34 in the crowded gym.

While Cape Henlopen was returning to its bench after a huddle during a timeout, punches were exchanged between fans in the front row and players.

It quickly spilled onto the court as coaches and administrators tried to restrain the parties involved. Multiple people were thrown to the floor and Milford police officers were seen putting handcuffs on at least one spectator.

Cape Henlopen players were ushered into the locker room as police officers worked to clear the floor. After things settled down, blood was visible on the court and on the wall near the entrance to Cape Henlopen’s locker room.

Prior to the brawl, Henlopen Conference officials and police officers on separate occasions warned the row of spectators seated directly behind the Cape Henlopen bench during the break in between the third and fourth quarters.

Smyrna’s bench was at the other end of the gym and none of its team personel were believed to be directly involved in the fight.

The incident did not have any impact on either team’s standing in the upcoming DIAA state tournament. Cape Henlopen was the No. 1 seed by the tourney’s point system while Smyrna — the defending state champion — was No. 3.

Staff writers Tim Mastro and Craig Anderson contributed to this story.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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