CEDAR CITY — Now that's a technical foul.

Police in Cedar City say a woman attacked the referee of a children's basketball game over fouls called during the game for fifth- and sixth-grade boys.

The incident happened Monday night after a Cedar City-sponsored youth basketball game for 10- and 11-year-old boys at Cedar Middle School.

"The mother was upset over some calls that were made during the game," Cedar City Police Sgt. Jerry Womack said. "She decided to wait until after the game, and she confronted the referee. The ref said, 'Listen, back off, get away from me, leave me alone.' "

Police said Melissa Cheeney, 33, Pioche, Nev., then jumped the five-months-pregnant referee.

"She grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the ground and kicked her a couple of times," Womack said.

Other parents who witnessed the attack broke up the fight. The referee was taken to a hospital to be checked out because of her pregnancy.

Cedar City Parks and Recreation director Bob Tate said he spoke with the referee on Tuesday and she seemed to be OK.

"Something like that is just uncalled for," Tate said, adding that Cheeney would be banned from future games. "We want to get a good, positive experience for the kids that play basketball. Win or loss is not the important thing."

Womack said he has been a volunteer coach in youth sports for years and has seen parents get pretty irate with referees.

"I've had parents yell and scream and stuff, but I've never had parents get physical. It was just shocking to me," he told the Deseret Morning News.

Cheeney was cited for assault and released. The Iron County Attorney's Office was screening possible formal charges Wednesday.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com