Greenbrier East Lady Spartans vs. Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles

Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson girls will play again for the sectional championship at East on February 28. Game time is 7:00 p.m.


On February 11, the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans played the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles in a tough game that came to a premature end with 4:45 minutes on the clock and East in the lead 46-40. The Eagles defense was tough, but East never quit.

East’s 6th man, led by students Tucker Via and Jace McHale, showed up with posters, streamers, party hats, and over-sized sunglasses, and loudly chanted their support in a game filled with physicality. Many East fans felt many fouls on both sides went uncalled. Some collisions were loud enough for some spectators to hear.

Midway through the first period, East senior Haley McClure went up for a rebound and unintentionally hit Woodrow Wilson’s Jamara Walton’s face on the way back down. The Woodrow player rushed McClure, and was restrained by other players from the Woodrow team.

Later, during a timeout in the fourth quarter, Fred Persinger and Timmy Gwinn announced on Radio Greenbrier’s 103.1 The Bear, “A fight has just broken out off the side of the court.” The fight resulted in Woodrow’s assistant coach Eugene Nabors being charged with obstructing an officer and being removed from school property. The gym was silent for 15 minutes and all eyes were on the court where East head coach and governor of West Virginia Jim Justice, Eagles head coach Brian Nabors, East athletic director Sheryl Hulmes, East head principal Ben Routson, and members of the sheriff’s department gathered to conference. Eventually the game was suspended, and as Justice left the court, the Beckley Register-Herald’s Tyler Jackson asked for comment. “I hate to say it any other way,” Justice said, “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 was in a fight, they walked off the floor, they called the game.”

Justice’s comments received widespread attention and were reported by The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated among other media outlets. Following criticism of his use of the term “thugs,” Justice said he did not mean it as a racial term. “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.”

Post-game, a Twitter account associated with Woodrow Wilson called WWHS Barstool became a forum for anti-East sentiment to which Routson, after praising students via intercom the following day for their exemplary behavior, encouraged them not to respond. Editor’s Note: Many communities around the country have anonymous “Barstool” accounts on which local high school sports are dissected. Such accounts are unaffiliated with the schools. WWHS Barstool tweets which have since been deleted made personal attacks on East players.

On February 13 the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) handed five Woodrow Wilson players a two-game suspension each for leaving their bench during the timeout. The players’ photos and names were headlined in the Register-Herald to the disgust of Flying Eagles fans.

Greenbrier County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bryant issued a statement last week in which he promised that Raleigh County and Greenbrier County “will work hand in hand as two respected school systems to educate and plan for a future of interscholastic athletic competition that will personify the very best in all involved.” Bryant also commended the Spartan team, its student cheering section, and “the great majority” of fans for their sportsmanship and support.

Woodrow Wilson’s principal also released a statement. Rockey Powell termed the incident at East “an unfortunate event,” denied that Nabors engaged “in a physical altercation with the opposing fan,” and chastised Justice for his “inappropriate remarks.”

Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson girls will play again for the sectional championship at East on February 28. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

Check back for updates.