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Chants of 'where's your passport?' break out at local high school basketball game

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 02:23:56-05

A high school basketball game between two Santa Maria rival teams ended with students in the stands taunting the other team and a confrontation between school administrators.

As the seconds counted down to the final buzzer, the matchup between Righetti and St. Joseph high schools became much more than just a game.

Chants of "where's your passport" from the Righetti student section filled the gym, leading to a heated exchange between school officials. It was captured in a video posted to Twitter by Santa Maria Times Sports Editor Joe Bailey.

According to the Santa Maria Times, St. Joseph High School has three players on the boys' basketball team from Puerto Rico and one from France.

The video shows St. Joseph's principal, Erinn Dougherty, storming across the court to confront the Righetti students. While a woman appears to try to calm down Dougherty, Righetti's Assistant Principal Ted Lyon gets involved in the exchange and trades words.

Righetti students Damian Perez and Gabriel Borunda were at the game, they say while chants between the rival teams are common Tuesday night's words went too far.

"It's pretty common you know. We chant, they chant, usually it goes well but last night it was just crazy," said Perez.

"Honestly I didn't like the way the chants were said, we could have not said that," said Borunda.

In response to what transpired after the game, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Public Information Officer Kenny Klein said in a statement representing Righetti:

We are aware of the unacceptable comments exchanged from both sides of the basketball court during the heated rivalry between St. Joseph and Righetti High School Tuesday night. The incident is being addressed by SMJUHSD and RHS school officials. We have no further comment at this time.

St. Joseph High School responded with their own statement:

We are disappointed about the way the boys basketball game against Righetti High School ended on Tuesday night. We do not tolerate any type of inappropriate statements made at any student especially if they could be interpreted as disrespectful. We hope that this can be a lesson in sportsmanship and mutual respect for students from both schools.