Spalding coach helping team move past incident at St. Frances

Boys basketball practice at Archbishop Spalding on Saturday was more than just running drills, practicing jumpers and preparing for Sunday afternoon's game at St. Maria Goretti, a 58-56 loss for the Cavaliers.

For fifth-year coach Derrick Lewis and the Cavaliers, it was a chance to learn about life and deal with the trying circumstances that came from an incident during Friday night's game at St. Frances. When the Cavaliers returned to their locker room at halftime, they found their belongings had been sorted through and some items were missing. Lewis said roughly $500 was missing, plus a Bluetooth he owned along with five iPhones belonging to players. With his team trailing 17-15 at the half, he asked for five additional minutes before ultimately deciding it would be in the best interest to not play the remainder of the game. On Saturday, it was first reported that only two phones were missing.

"I would have loved for us to continue to play the game. We were right there — down 17-15 — and could have won," Lewis said. "But the kids didn't have the right mindset to go back out."

Lewis and the team members filed individual police reports to an off-duty police officer on hand and the team is waiting to hear back from the Baltimore City Police. He told his players in the locker room that this was a life lesson and the items can be replaced. The game — which is expected to be picked up at the time it left off either Tuesday or Thursday — became secondary to the team.

"I've always respected the league and [since the incident], I have talked to a lot of coaches in the league, outside the league and even some college coaches, and everybody told me that I did the right thing not having those kids the finish the game," he said.

Administrators from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Baltimore Catholic League are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Monday at Spalding to discuss possible consequences as a result of the incident.

In the meantime, Lewis, who also is the physical education chairperson at the school, said the Cavaliers had a positive practice Saturday. He spent the first 45 minutes with light play to get the players loose. The next five minutes were spent talking about the incident at St. Frances and then the former Maryland star talked extensively about some of the obstacles he had to deal with over the course of his life, including the time he was playing professionally in France when his aunt died and he wasn't able to get a flight home in time to attend the funeral.

"The kids are fine — they are a close-knit group and back in the right mindset," Lewis said. "I talked about life-changing events and different scenarios I've gone through in my years. We talked about character, persevering and growing from it. I'm a teacher and I have a job to protect these kids, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. And if we have to forfeit the game, then we forfeit the game. I'm not going to worry about that — the priority is the kids."

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