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Arlington Martin to face Lake Highlands with 5 eligible players in Texas high school playoffs after on-court clash

After a bench-clearing scrum during their area round victory, the Arlington Martin Warriors will have only five players Tuesday against Lake Highlands

One of the most highly-anticipated postseason games of the 2022-23 Texas high school basketball playoffs might be defined more by some notable absences than the two elite 6A boys basketball teams squaring off against one another.

Arlington Martin (30-4), the No. 5 team in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches rankings for Class 6A, will enter its third-round playoff matchup against Lake Highlands (29-3) — the No. 1 team in the latest TABC rankings — on Tuesday night with just five players from the Warriors’ roster available following a bench-clearing scrum during the area round.

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During the final minutes of the Warriors’ area-round playoff game against the Lewisville Farmers, a Martin player and Lewisville player started exchanging words  before eventually shoving and throwing punches at one another (NFHS video above).

The altercation with 3:59 remaining during the fourth quarter caused the Warriors’ bench to clear as the situation escalated. After deliberating for 15 minutes, referees ejected the entirety of Arlington Martin’s bench — 11 of 16 players on the team’s varsity roster as well as two Lewisville players.

That forced Martin — which held a slim 49-43 lead at the time of the mass ejection — to finish the closing minutes of the fourth quarter with just five eligible players, only three of whom were also starters.

The Warriors, however, secured a 55-53 win over Lewisville after Jaden Juarez drilled a go-ahead layup with 8 seconds remaining to advance and set up a showdown against the Lake Highlands Wildcats in the regional quarterfinals.

University Interscholastic League rules dictate that players who are ejected during a game are required to miss the remainder of that contest as well as the entirety of their team’s next game, too.

Martin will be missing senior starters Ismael Smith Flores and Jackson Osborn among the longer list of players who will be unavailable for the Warriors during their high-profile regional quarterfinals matchup against Lake Highlands.

Arlington Martin appealed the decision, but the program’s appeal was denied by the UIL. Arlington Independent School District released a statement regarding the ejections Monday afternoon.

“Last Friday night, an altercation occurred in the last several minutes of a basketball game involving Martin High School players,” Arlington ISD Executive Director of Communications Anita Foster wrote in a statement. 

“All students involved in the altercation have received discipline according to Arlington ISD’s student-athlete expectations, the Arlington ISD Student Code of Conduct and UIL’s recommended disciplinary action.”

Martin and Lake Highlands met during the regional quarterfinals round of the 2022-23 Class 6A UIL boys basketball playoffs last year too, a game that the Warriors won 66-62.

Arlington Martin (30-4) and Lake Highlands (29-3) will duel in the third round of the 6A Texas high school boys basketball playoffs at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas.