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Pearl River High School Officials Investigating Allegations Of Racist Taunts At Basketball Game Against Nyack

PEARL RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There are allegations of racist taunts at a basketball game at Pearl River High School in Rockland County.

Administrators say players for Nyack were taunted during Wednesday's game.

A sign in Pearl River calls it "The Town of Friendly People," but Wednesday at Pearl River High School, the welcome was not warm for visiting Nyack.

The Pearl River superintendent says some of his students made "monkey noises" while Black players for Nyack took free throws. It happened at least three times -- an attempt to rattle the opposition with sounds that are widely regarded as racist.

"It's tough because when you hear those sounds, you know the purpose of those sounds, you know it's meant-- it's not meant to be nice," Nyack varsity basketball coach Ethan Smith said.

"I was in the game, I was focused, but obviously, I hear things coming to my ears 'cause, I heard the background noise. I was very surprised by it. I was very shocked," Nyack player Kameron Kukielczak said.

"It was surreal. I didn't think it was 100% true, what I was hearing, 'cause I was actually shocked," Smith said.

Watch Tony Aiello's report -- 

The shock is compounded by news Friday that Pearl River was already investigating complaints about similar ugly student behavior from just a few days prior.

"To see it happen to our boys, in the same gym, with their administration present is something that's very alarming to me," Nyack athletic director Joe Sigillo said.

"Our high school administration responded to this incident by going into the student group and addressing the students directly," said Pearl River Superintendent Marco Pochintesta.

Pochintesta says his schools will expand efforts to foster tolerance and respect.

"We absolutely find this behavior deeply disturbing, harmful to all of us, and racist," he said.

The Nyack school chief says his district wants to engage and help.

"The noises that were made, the racism that exists in our society, is something that we are really looking to dismantle at every given time," Nyack Superintendent Eudes Budhai said.

"I believe it definitely is a teaching moment that we can all use to learn from and to glean from and to grow from," Nyack faith leader Pastor Carl Washington said.

"Actually create some change so that we create that tolerance and understanding of each other that can really bring our communities together," Nyack Mayor Donald Hammond said.

It has certainly united Nyack with a huge turnout of support at Friday's basketball game against Clarkstown North, a show of pride in their players for gracefully handling an ugly episode.

"Nyack is and always was an example of fairness, respect and positive sportsmanship," one person told the crowd.

When players took the court, they were united in their outrage.

"It's bringing us closer, but I'm not gonna sit by and let it happen," said Nyack player Harrison Jordan, who is white. "This was targeted towards my teammates, who are my family, and I'm not gonna let them get treated any differently than I would be treated, so I'm gonna stand by them and stick with them and I'm gonna have their backs through anything."

Nyack alum Tre Beamon told CBS2's Dick Brennan the taunts are nothing new.

"It's been going on for years," he said.

He says he endured them when he played Pearl River ten years ago and can't believe the latest incident.

"I don't know if it's frustration or just anger to be honest with you because it should never happen in the first place," Beamon said.

People in Nyack say perhaps this could be a teachable moment.

"It's super frustrating, but you see it everywhere in the world, so you just have to do your part and try to make the world better," Nyack alum Kayyah Simpson said.

Meanwhile, Pearl River says it's investigating that ugly fan behavior with an eye on possible discipline.

CBS2's Tony Aiello contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story was first published Feb. 11.

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