Following tense first meeting, respect rules the day in basketball rematch between Center HS, Warrensburg

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Students at Center High School in Kansas City say they were determined to take the high road Friday night when the school’s basketball team had a rematch against Warrensburg High School.

The two teams made headlines in December when Warrensburg’s student section turned their backs during Center’s player introductions. The atmosphere this time around was a 180-degree turn from the first meeting.

Center completed a season sweep, beating Warrensburg 72 to 35, but students admitted there was more on their mind than just the game.

Center students say it’s tough to forget the last matchup. Warrensburg students were caught on camera turning their backs on Center’s players as they were announced, all while wearing farmer attire, and with one student waving a Trump-Pence campaign sign.

The move is a school tradition, but on that particular occasion it was seen by some as unsportsmanlike and racist. Warrensburg’s superintendent insisted it had nothing to do with race, but nonetheless apologized.

Something Center students appreciated that, and said they just wanted to move forward from what happened.

“I feel like the students feel like we’re moving past it and it’s kind of like old news, so to speak, because the superintendent apologized, students apologized and it was just kind of like we understand they believe it’s tradition, but to us at that time it felt disrespectful. So I feel like we’re moving past it,” said Kalé Searcy.

“I think we decided to take the high road because, you know, Center is based on sportsmanship when it comes to the games and we didn`t want to stoop or seem like we were ignorant or being disrespectful. We just wanted to be welcoming,” she continued.

An administrator echoed the sentiment of wanting to leave the past behind and move forward.

“To us as a community, it was hurtful. But at the same time, of course we want to move forward in the spirit of being better and accepting and thanking people for apologies and understanding that this was something that happened, and we all have to be better as we move forward,” said Kelly Wachel, Center’s director of public relations.

Earlier this week, some students took to social media encouraging each other to wear black to the game in solidarity with their team, which a few students did choose to do. However, there were no disruptions on Friday night.