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California high school takes heat after tortillas are launched at losing basketball team

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Following a high school basketball game in Southern California, Coronado High School players threw tortillas at the losing team from Orange Glen High School in what is being called a “racist” and “really disrespectful” incident.

The game took place on Saturday night with Coronado beating Orange Glen 60-57 at the CIF Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship. Some team members from Coronado proceeded to then toss tortillas at players from Orange Glen. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and CIF-San Diego Section are now reviewing the incident.

“They won; we were going to take the loss the way they were supposed to,” stated Lizardo Reynoso, who is an assistant basketball coach for Orange Glen, located in Escondido. What came next was totally uncalled for and offensive to the losing team. “The players on the other team and some fans started throwing tortillas on our whole team, which, as you can see, we’re predominately Hispanic and Latino, so it like, took us pretty hard,” claimed Lizardo.

Pictures were taken of a boy holding packages of tortillas that were being passed out and there is a video of the moment people realized that tortillas were being thrown: “Tortillas were flying in the air like at our bench and stuff,” recounted Anthony Garibay, who is an Orange Glen basketball player. “It was a great game between both teams, we both played our hearts out, and it ended in a way it shouldn’t have ended. The players who obviously threw the tortillas and whoever came up with that should obviously be punished, you know, definitely not taken lightly.”

(Video Credit: CBS 8 San Diego)

There is more to the story. Orange Glen’s basketball team coach, Chris Featherly told ABC News 10 that before the incident occurred there was an altercation between the two head coaches, and things were heated.

“It’s hard enough losing a state championship. To me it was flat out a racist act — we’re a school that has a high population of Hispanic and Latinos and you’re taking bags of tortillas throwing it in our direction,” Featherly angrily stated. “It wasn’t about us winning or losing, it was about what he said, to use it was completely tasteless and disrespectful.”

“As we approached their bench, not physically, just kind of went over there with our choice of words, let them know how unclassy we felt that was and how disgusting, disrespectful it was to do that. Then, tortillas were being thrown in our direction,” Featherly noted.

“That’s beyond disrespect, you’re going beyond,” he said.

Coronado’s head coach, JD Laaperi tweeted: “Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature. I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action.”

Reynoso is claiming, however, the incident happened after an argument with Laaperi over disrespectful comments following the loss: “He started the whole incident which got us all fired up, tried to tell him, ‘You gotta learn how to win with class and dignity.'”

“The head coach and the assistant coach came over to our bench and kind of said some words that were inappropriate and told us that we should take our kids and ‘get the F out’ because we were a bunch of losers,” asserted the coach.

“I thought it was like pita bread or something,” Reynoso said. “(It) just starts like coming towards us and I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ And more and more starts coming towards us and my wife goes, ‘Oh my god, they’re throwing tortillas.’”

An Instagram account that allegedly belongs to the Coronado basketball team is actually defending the “Tortilla Toss,” claiming that it was “similar to throwing confetti at parties or a cap at the end of graduation.” It went on to say: “There are many schools that have done this in the past such as Texas Tech, UCSB & Baylor. It’s unfortunate this act was misconstrued and the boys never would’ve done it if they thought it would be hurtful or offensive.” That account has since been made private.

The Coronado Police Department said in a statement that they were “disturbed by the behavior of some of those attending last night’s basketball game.” The officers who arrived on the scene were able to clear everyone out of the gym within minutes. They have also identified the adult who brought the tortillas to the game.

“The Trustees of the Coronado Unified School District acknowledge these acts to be egregious, demeaning, and disrespectful. We fully condemn the racism, classism, and colorism which fueled the actions of the perpetrators,” a released statement reads.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez tweeted in anger that Coronado High School “should be sanctioned by CIF or stripped of their championship.” She is part of the Latino Caucus, who called the tortilla-throwing incident an act of hate and called for “the CIF to take strong action to hold the responsible students and school accountable for these hateful, violating acts.”

She also tweeted that if the incident is really a “teaching moment,” there should also be “real consequences” for the teens responsible who are nearly adults.

“This behavior is unacceptable and reprehensible,” Supervisor Nora Vargas tweeted. “The adults in the room need to do better and teach their kids/athletes better.”

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