Mike Jensen, Dick Shellhorn and Ralph Johnson at the Yakutat St. Elias Classic. Old pro Tony Johnson, who ejected fan Arnie Johnson, missed the photo opp. Photo courtesy of Dick Shellhorn

Basketball is a sport than can create tense moments; that’s why we love it. 

Managing and channeling that pressure is one of the lessons of the game. Every now and then behavior goes too far, resulting in technical fouls, or more severely, ejections. 

Under the rules of today’s game, one flagrant foul or two technical fouls results in an automatic ejection. Ejected coaches are banished from the gym, and also cannot coach their next game. 

Any True Wolverine Fan remembers firebrand Valdez boys Coach Dan Eide. In his first visit to Cordova he received two technicals for bench decorum and ejection in the JV game; and thus gained  considerable notoriety because he could not coach his varsity squad later that evening in his first varsity game here.  

Even more rare are fan ejections. But they do happen. Officials stop the game and notify designated Home Management when this is necessary. 

One of the most unusual fan ejections I ever saw happened when Cordova was playing Nenana at Nenana. The gym was almost empty, and the male member of a couple who sat on the top row of bleachers was screaming pleasantries at the officials. Everyone in the gym could hear them. 


One of the referees blew his whistle, pointed at him, and indicated he was leaving. The school principal started over to escort him out.  

His wife stood up, and  indignantly shouted “Well! If you going to throw him out, you might as well toss me too! I need a ride home.” 

My personal favorite fan ejection occurred right down the coast from here. 

Yakutat used to host a three-day round-robin tournament called the Mt. St. Elias Classic. It featured typical fine Southeast Alaska basketball, and the fans were great — knowledgeable, positive, and fun. 

I had made several visits to the tournament and came to know many of the people on a first name basis. They had three local officials who were solid and good to work with. Two of them were young guys who had starred as players for Yakutat, the third was a short, wizened veteran who had called many games there. 

Yakutat had a nice gym with a couple unusual features. To make space for fans and a large weight room, one sideline wall had been knocked out, creating a small low ceiling bleacher section that would hold about 30 fans. It stretched halfway down the sidelines and fans would have to lean out to see action in the far corner on that side. 

To support the roof above that removed wall several 12×12 pillars stood right on that edge of the court. They were wrapped with foam padding, for good reason. The local guys warned me about being careful when covering fast breaks on that side. 

So. I am working a boys game with Old Pro Tony Johnson. Things were going well — or so I thought. Suddenly Tony stops, gives a big toot on his whistle, and hollers “That’s it, Arnie. You’re outta here!” 

He is pointing at the shadows in the back row of the mini-rooting section. 

I didn’t even know anyone was back there. 

Now it gets real interesting.  

Who is going to handle the ejection of this Arnie guy? 

I look around — no administrators in sight.   

Guess what? The scorekeeper stands up behind the scoring table on the opposite side of the court.  She is wearing a black police uniform and Glock pistol, plus has handcuffs and billy club attached. 

She steps around the table, walks across midcourt, and beckons in the shadows. 

Out comes Arnie, hat somewhat askew, slight grin on his face, nodding his head in cooperation.  

A hush fell over the crowd. After he was escorted down the center of the court and out, you could have heard a pin drop for the rest of the game. 

Next year I was invited back to the tournament. During pregame warmups I was standing by the pillars on the opposite sideline. 

From behind me, I hear a whisper. It was Arnie. “Hey Dick, Hey Dick.” 

I turn, and there’s Arnie with that missing a tooth grin.   

We shake hands. “Hey Arnie, how ya doing?” 

“Great! And I’m not getting thrown out tonight!” 

He was right. 

No Go Arnie Go.