ELIZABETH (WABC) -- A New Jersey high school basketball powerhouse has been suspended from this year's state tournament over a brawl that erupted during a game in California.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced last Friday that The Patrick School boys' team would not be allowed to compete in the state tournament.
The NJSIAA says the discipline is mandatory after five players were ejected from a game on Dec. 29 in the Under Armour Holiday Classic in San Diego.
The incident happened in a tight contest with seconds left in the game, when there was a hard foul on a member of The Patrick School team. That was followed by taunting by a member of the Redondo Union team that escalated when punches were thrown and players left the bench to protect their teammates. That led to incidents of pushing and shoving, which ended with the ejections of five members of Patrick School team.
There is a rule that ban teams if three or more players or coaches are ejected during a single game for "flagrantly unsportsmanlike conduct."
Officials say two Patrick players were ejected for their roles in the shoving match during the game, and three others were thrown out for leaving the bench.
The players were told last week about the NJSIAA decision.
The coach and principal stands by his players, but he wonders why the state association didn't study the video before drawing a final conclusion.
But according to the letter of the law, "leaving the bench area for any reason outside of normal participation in play is recognized as a major violation at almost every level of sport, and rules against it are aimed at protecting players."
In this high school case, the parents are disheartened.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)