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High School Basketball Player Dies On Court

December 29, 1995

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ A 15-year-old basketball player’s sudden death during a high school game remained a mystery Thursday as grief engulfed his coaches and teammates.

Cesar Ibarra, a freshman guard for Southside High School, collapsed during the second quarter of a game Wednesday against South San High School as he was standing still, about to throw an inbounds pass.

The game was stopped and Ibarra was rushed to Wilford Hall Medical Center, where he was dead on arrival at 5:45 p.m.

``It’s a terrible tragedy,″ said Ralph Harvey, a basketball coach at Southside. ``It’s just something that happens and we don’t really know why.″

School officials said they knew of no medical problems afflicting Ibarra. And an autopsy Thursday provided no immediate clues about what killed the 5-foot-8, 150-pound athlete.

``There’s no obvious trauma to him,″ said Gary Biggs, an investigator with the Bexar County medical examiner’s office. It likely would be another four to six weeks before a cause of death is determined pending further laboratory tests, Biggs said.

Even though another coach had said Ibarra bumped heads with a player moments before he collapsed, Harvey said the collision was nothing unusual for a basketball game.

``There was contact going on during the whole game,″ he said. ``It wasn’t anything that was out of the ordinary. ... It was just normal stuff that’s happening on a crowded basketball court.″

The University Interscholastic League, which oversees high school athletic competition, also is investigating, Harvey said.

Ricky Lucio, a South San player, said he saw Ibarra stop breathing.

``It’s pretty sad, because it could have been any of us,″ Lucio said.

At Southside High School, where students are off for the holidays, male and female athletes came to school Thursday for grief counseling.

``There have been counselors, coaches, administrators (speaking with the students),″ Harvey said. ``They have been told, `It’s a tough time, don’t try to go it alone. We’re here for you.′ ″

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