WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Like them or not, celebratory postgame court storms are a staple of college basketball.

They happen almost every week.

They’re spontaneous. Emotional. And for the winning home team and its fans, they’re all fun and games.

Until someone gets hurt.

The most memorable recent instance of that happening came about a month ago when Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark was knocked to the floor by an Ohio State fan as she tried to escape the court following a game in Columbus. She was shaken up, but thankfully not seriously injured as a result of the collision.

One can only hope that the same can be said for Kyle Filipowski.

Duke’s leading scorer and rebounder had to be helped to his team’s locker room, visibly in pain on Saturday after getting caught in the sea of humanity that converged on the court at Joel Coliseum after Wake Forest’s 83-79 upset of the 8th-ranked Blue Devils.

Coach Jon Scheyer originally said that Filipowski had suffered a sprained ankle. But the sophomore forward later corrected him saying that the injury was to his right knee. He also accused Wake’s fans of intentionally targeting him.

That may or may not have been the case. This much, however, is indisputable.

Filipowski is absolutely not at fault for what happened to him. Even though there are plenty out there, most of whom are proponents of the Duke/Evil Empire narrative, who have suggested on social media that the Blue Devils star was the aggressor rather than the victim.

While replays do appear to show him making 1st contact with an onrushing fan, it was an action taken in self-defense.

Or more accurately, self-preservation.

The bottom line here is that no matter how much fans are encouraged to make their presence known at games and do whatever they can to give their team a homecourt advantage, their participation must be limited to the confines of the seating bowl.

The area between the lines belongs to the players. Any intrusion into their space, no matter how joyous and or universally accepted it might be, is trespassing until all the participants have vacated the premises. Wake’s fans are just the latest to have violated those boundaries.

The incident brought about an angry response from Scheyer, which was both understandable and warranted.

He’s had to negotiate his way through more than his share of raucous postgame celebrations through the years as a player, assistant coach and now as the man in charge of the Blue Devils. With the possible exception of North Carolina, no one in the ACC is on the wrong end of them as much as Duke.

“How many times does a player have to get into something where they get punched or they get pushed or they get taunted right in their face?” he said. “It’s a dangerous thing. … It’s happened to us a bunch this year.”

This one had even more elements for disaster than most.

Start with the magnitude of the victory for the Deacons. They’ve been to the NCAA Tournament only once since 2010 and after Saturday’s win, there’s a good chance they’ll be going back this season.

Multiply that by an emotionally charged school record crowd given an extra minute or 2 to assemble and percolate during a timeout called by the home team, ahead by 4 with only 1.8 seconds left on the clock.

It was a situation that brought back memories of a game at Florida State in 2012 when UNC coach Roy Williams pulled his starters off the floor and into the safety of the locker room, leaving his walkons and reserve point guard Stilman White to negotiate their way through the inevitable bull rush on their own.

Scheyer alluded to that incident during his postgame comments, saying that he should have taken his entire team – walkons and all – off the court for that final tick and a fraction.

“I’m never going to give up in a game. You want to do everything you can to give yourself a chance,” he said. “But in retrospect, I wish I would have gotten those guys off the court.”

Short of not losing the game, that’s about the only thing Scheyer could have done to keep Filipowski and the rest of his team out of harm’s way. It’s a reality that prompted him to repeat the familiar refrain that always seems to follow a court rush gone bad.

“When are we going to ban court storming,” he said. “When are we going to ban that?”

It’s a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer.

If any answer at all.

Unless you surround the court with a fence like they used to when basketball players were known as “Cagers” or at soccer stadiums in some Central and South American countries, it’s all but impossible to prevent fans from rushing the floor to celebrate if that, as a group, is what they decide to do.

Even if you hire extra security guards – or in the case of Wake on Saturday, do a better job of training them – it’s unrealistic to expect 50, 100 or even 150 adults to hold back the surge created by several thousand excited college kids.

The ACC doesn’t have a financial deterrent to discourage such instances, as they do in the SEC. But even with fines of $100,000 for the 1st offense, $250,000 for the 2nd and $500,000 for the 3rd, they still happen. As was the case recently when South Carolina took down Kentucky.

No ban or rule outlawing court stroms is going to stop them.

Wake coach Steve Forbes, the 1st of several representatives of his school to offer an apology to Filipowski and Duke, said he dislikes court storms just as much as his counterpart Scheyer.

And he agreed that something needs to be done about them.

“They just don’t feel safe,” he said.

But in his very next breath, Forbes indirectly condoned the practice by saying “the next time that happens, we’ll do a better job of taking care of that situation.”

That’s the conundrum of court storms. They’re dangerous and everyone says they want to do something about them. But they also don’t want to interfere with “the college experience” of their students.

They’re fun, after all.

That is, until someone gets hurt.