Basketball trash talk allegedly turned racial Friday night during defending state boys basketball champion Barneveld’s 48-40 win over Black Hawk, though Black Hawk Schools Superintendent Willy Chambers says he’s confident the allegation is false.
It was during the first half that an African American player for the Barneveld Eagles told his coaches that a Black Hawk player had called him the n-word during the run of play. Barneveld Schools Superintendent Brett Stousland was alerted, and he relayed the allegation to Chambers.
“I found out at halftime,” Stousland said. He said Chambers spoke with the Black Hawk players and coach and let them know that “if there’s anything else even remotely like that again they would pull him from the game,” Stousland said.
Chambers doesn’t believe it happened.
In an email to Madison365 Saturday, Chambers wrote, “I did take a moment to confront the student at half time (will not mention names), he stated that he did not make any racial comments. I also asked Randy Gabel, the (athletic director) from Barneveld, if I could speak to the officials after the game. I was able to speak to the officiating crew and they assured me that they did not hear any remark resembling a racial slur. They also assured me if they had heard such a comment they would have ejected any athlete immediately for such an indiscretion.”
In an interview Sunday, Chambers clarified that he does not believe any racial slurs were used.
“Racism is a hot button, rightfully so,” he told Madison365. “I am confident it didn’t happen.”
Stousland stressed that no one but the two players involved heard the exchange.
“It’s a he said-he said,” Stousland said. “I’m not sure why our player would make that up … No one else heard it, but I’m not saying it wasn’t said. My guess is it was. It was addressed immediately. Myself and the Blackhawk superintendent don’t condone it or want it.”
Stousland said he understands there’s always some “jawing” on the basketball court.
“Kids will often go to the lowest common denominator and what’s going to hurt the most, so if it’s an African American player, they’ll go to the n-word or another racial slur,” he said.
Attempts to reach the Barneveld player who was allegedly involved were not successful.
Third-seeded Barneveld defeated number-two Pecatonica 77-40 in Blanchardville Saturday night in the regional finals.
This story has been updated to include the response of Black Hawk Superintendent Willy Chambers.