GREENBRIER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – On Tuesday night, an altercation occurred at the Woodrow Wilson/Greenbrier East girls basketball game during the fourth quarter of a tense game.
A Greenbrier East fan and Woodrow Wilson assistant coach Gene Nabors had an exchange of words that turned heated and then involved the fans and players.
Ben Anderson was there to root for Greenbrier East when he saw it all unfold during the timeout.
“From what I had seen a Greenbrier East parent had been taunting Woodrow Wilson players throughout the night and the assistant coach for Woodrow Wilson came over to this parent and confronted him and basically it was on from there,” Anderson said. “There was a lot of jawing going back and forth and then everything basically erupted.”
The eruption continued to spill over the next day as Greenbrier East Head Coach and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice referred to the Woodrow Wilson players as “a bunch of thugs” in an interview with The Register-Herald.
West Virginia State police issued a release on Thursday stating that Woodrow Wilson assistant coach Eugene Nabors was cited for obstructing an officer. Anderson said this was when the energy shifted in the crowd.
“The crowd became very nervous,” Anderson said. “As soon as they noticed that Woodrow Wilson assistant coach literally shoved a policeman, and when he was brought down to the ground to be arrested, there was a lot of tension in the air and basically the crowd almost went silent.”
Anderson said it took about 15 minutes to sort it all out and the game was called with no winner shortly after.
He said this rivalry match up is usually tense, but this time it was different. Anderson is worried about the two teams meeting again.
“Yeah, it’s very likely that Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson will play each other in the sectionals, and it’s going to be really tough,” he said. “But the bottom line is, this is a high school girls basketball game for crying out loud. It’s embarrassing that the tension got to this point and that grown adults could act like this.”
The altercation is still under investigation.
UPDATE: CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice has released a statement regarding his choice of words referring to a basketball team as “thugs”.
“My definition of a thug is clear – it means violence, bullying, and disorderly conduct. And we, as West Virginians, should have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior. Anyone that would accuse me of making a racial slur is totally absurd.
“I’m extremely proud that my coaches, my team, and myself were not involved in this incident in any way, shape, form, or fashion and I’m truly saddened that the Woodrow kids had to be subjected to this behavior.
“One of the incidents that I referred to resulted in one of the Woodrow Wilson assistant coaches being cited by the State Police for obstruction of an officer.
“I am certain that the WVSSAC will deal with this in a professional and appropriate manner.”
GREENBRIER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Governor Jim Justice is facing some pushback after he referred to a girls basketball team as “a bunch of thugs”.
On Tuesday night, the Greenbrier East Spartans and Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles were playing against each other in Fairlea.
During the fourth quarter, an altercation broke out between a fan and the assistant coach of Woodrow Wilson, Gene Nabors.
Woodrow Wilson Head Coach Brian Nabors, Gene’s older brother, removed his team from the floor, and Governor Jim Justice then asked for a forfeit.
Greenbrier East was leading 46-40 when the game was suspended.
Tyler Jackson, a reporter for The Register-Herald, asked Gov. Justice about the altercation and Justice said, “I hate to say it any other way, but honest to God’s truth is the same thing happened over at Woodrow two different times out of the Woodrow players, they’re a bunch of thugs. The whole team left the bench; the coach is in a fight; they walked off the floor; they called the game.”
Brian Nabors’ told Jackson after the game, “We only came here to play basketball.”
For transparency, here’s the entire interview with Justice. Excuse me bumbling over my words, there was a lot going on. pic.twitter.com/2JrH3inLmp
— Tyler Jackson (@TjackRH) February 12, 2020
The WVSSAC issued this statement Tuesday night: “After the officials’ report is received, the situation is reviewed, and school officials will be notified.”
Stay with WOAY News for further updates on this developing story.