Leading off today:
Here's a tip for administrators at Biondi High in Yonkers:
It's called a rule book, not a suggestions book. Try reading it once in awhile. I know it starts out a little slow, but I assure you after awhile it becomes a real page-turner.
For the second time if five years, Biondi has screwed up the Section 1 boys basketball tournament.
This time, Biondi has had to forfeit Monday's semifinal win over Clark Academy after a Section 1 investigation determined the school had used an ineligible player during the 67-59 victory.
Sectional Executive Director Jennifer Simmons told The Journal News the decision was made Wednesday after Biondi self-reported the violation, though "self-reported" barely applies since Clark coaches lodged a protest before the game even started based on their belief that Biondi had multiple players in its scorebook who had not been eligible for the six games required to compete in the playoffs.
Biondi officials vetted the players in question and determined they were all eligible. However, the process uncovered another player who was in fact ineligible when he participated in the semifinal. As a result, Clark lives to see another day and will play top-seeded MLK for the Section 1 Class D championship Friday.
For loyal readers on this blog, the debacle may have a familiar ring to it.
In 2012, Biondi was stripped of the Class D championship after Section 1 determined that the team's two-time tournament MVP, Lance McDowdell, should not have been eligible to participate. McDowdell was a star football player for Mount Vernon who attended school at Biondi. Although he was eligible to play football in his home district, Mount Vernon, McDowdell was not eligible to play sports at two different schools under NYSPHSAA rules.
(By the way, the same issue existed with McDowell the previous year. Section 1 opted to not retroactively strip Biondi of that championship.)
Opinion: Aquinas' foul-up in the 2015 football season is arguably the highest-profile rules gaffe in recent years for NYSPHSAA schools. The handing of Jake Zembiec's return from an injury may have cost the Section 5 school what ultimately could have been a three-peat in the state tournament.
But what Section 1 may lack in quality, they sure make up for in quantity when it comes to mucking up the postseason.
Aside from the Biondi issues in 2011 and '12 noted above, some of the Section's greatest hits (misses?) in recent years include:
• Hurricane Sandy and an early November Nor'easter caused repeated delays in conducting the Section 1 Class A football final, subsequently backing up the schedule and affecting preparations for schools in the Eastern half of the state tournament bracket. The game would have been played before Mother Nature's wrath had hit if the section had adhered to the same playoff schedule used by the entire rest of the state rather than insisting on a later start to the season.
(Last fall, the decision to start practice a week later and end the regular season about a week sooner than in most seasons left some schools trying to jam as many as four soccer games into five days, suggesting that they just never learn their lesson when it comes to scheduling.)
• In took until the eve of the 2013 boys basketball tournament for anyone in the section to realize that the enrollment figure for Children's Village should have been doubled to reflect the fact that the school served only male students. As a result, that school was abruptly moved from th No. 1 seed in Class D into Class C, leaving teams scrambling to figure out who they would be playing in opening-round contests.
• Two months ago, the use of an ineligible player has cost Beacon all of the victories in a 7-3 start to the boys basketball season. The player was also on the football team, and that team's victories also had to be forfeited long after the fact, the implication being that the sectional tournament last fall may have been seeded differently had the issue been detected sooner.
The NYSPHSAA conducts meetings in every section each year that are mandatory for athletic directors, with the penalty for not attending including potentially banning that school from the postseason.
We may have reached the point in Section 1 where they should flip the auditorium lights on at random times during the Powerpoint presentation to make sure no one is snoozing.
Top-ranked team falls: The Our Lady of Lourdes boys basketball team will play for the Section 1 Class A title Sunday following a 54-48 upset of Byram Hills, ranked first in the state by the NYSSWA.
Trailing 45-40 midway through the fourth quarter, Lourdes held Byram Hills to 0-for-10 shooting from the field the rest of the way. With his team down 48-47, Kevin Townes made a step-back 3-pointer to put Lourdes ahead with 2:09 left to play.