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Monday, March 26, 2018: If you're still blaming LuHi, you should probably stop

   Leading off today: What I wrote the other day regarding the controversial ending of the Federation basketball semifinal still stands to some extent.

   Long Island Lutheran had numerous stoppages in play -- at least nine timeouts and three breaks between quarters -- during which it could have uncovered the discrepancy in timeouts taken that eventually led to a technical foul with 8.3 seconds left in a tie game.

   But LuHi's culpability is sliding down the list with respect to who is at fault. And at the rate we're going it may not even make it onto the first page when someone does the final post mortem on this mess.

   That's because even the fail-safe failed Friday night.

   The details are well known by now. LuHi was incorrectly charged for a timeout that Archbishop Stepinac had taken early in the game, eventually resulting in the technical foul that gave Stepinac two free throws plus possession on the way to a 76-72 win.

   At this point we know that the official scorer triggered the unfortunate chain of events by incorrectly recording the timeout early in the first quarter.

   LuHi coach John Buck dug through the basketball rule book of the National Federation of State High School Associations Sunday and found another problem. By rule, the scorer is supposed to "notify a team and its coach, through an official, whenever that team is granted its final allotted charged time-out."

   Hand-in-hand with that is this: Once notified by the scorer, the on-court officials are supposed to notify the head coach "when a team is granted its final allowable time-out."

   Something went wrong somewhere in that two-step process, because Buck told me Monday that he was never given the notification but that his counterparts at Stepinac were given the information.

   "The bottom line is that the rule book has in it the provision that the official should have notified us," he said.

   That notification would have come a little earlier in the fourth quarter and probably triggered a disagreement. Even if he lost the debate then and LuHi had to play the remainder of the game with no timeouts remaining, Buck would have known to not try using one with 8.3 seconds left.

   "There was a check and balance and that didn't happen,"

Buck said.

   Add one more issue to the list: the scoreboard.

   Other than the time, nothing on the scoreboard is official. The score and the number of team fouls are tracked in the official scorebook.

   A year ago, the scoreboard over the court at what was then the Glens Falls Civic Center was the hockey-puck shaped data center that was very much full service. It included timeouts remaining, even breaking them down by full and those of the 30-second variety.

   Since then, though, Cool Insuring Arena has relegated the "puck" to a message and ad display and installed flat-screen displays that no longer show the timeout status.

   Again, whatever might have been listed on the scoreboard would have been unofficial. But the odds are very good that the LuHi folks would have noticed somewhere between early in the first quarter and late in the fourth that they had been shorted a timeout and would have asked for a clarification.

   All of that contributed to what unfortunately will end up being the story of the year in New York high school sports -- a crazy ending and an appeal that had no chance of succeeding because the people who wrote the rules apparently never envisioned that a mistake in the official scorer's book could have such major consequences in the next-to-last game of the year.

   Every conversation I had with Buck since Friday night's mess has included him lauding and congratulating the Stepinac team for the victory in an entertaining and exceptionally well played matchup. At the same time, though, he understandably does not want to say that Long Island Lutheran lost.

   "You can't ask the kids to pour their hearts into something and then say, 'Hey, sorry ...'" Buck said. "You cannot have it both ways."

   More basketball: As long as we're on the subject of confusion, I might as well get this explanation out of the way. I had intended to write it at the end of last week, but then my blog on the rapidly shrinking Class D in New York football and the Federation controversy got in the way.

   So, here we go:

   It turns out that Buffalo East was the best Class C boys basketball team in the NYSPHSAA Class D tournament in Binghamton two weeks ago.

   There was no cheating, no misleading, no skulduggery involved. But as best I can tell, Buffalo East had a Class C-sized student body this school year, though the numbers still technically put East in Class D for a season that concluded with a 74-61 win over Moriah in overtime.

   Here's what happened:

   The old Buffalo East High -- not that old, actually, since it was created in 2005 -- is being phased out and replaced with East Community High in the same building.

   On the day that the all-important BEDS data was recorded in October 2016, East High had 85 juniors or seniors while East Community had 56 freshmen. That gave the campus a BEDS number of 141 which was used for purposes of assigning it to Class D for the just concluded season.

   But when school opened this past fall. East Community added far more freshmen than that number of seniors that East High lost. On BEDS day, East had 20 students and East Community 254 for a total of 274 students -- easily Class C size -- from which to form a basketball roster.

   But because the October 2016 BEDS data dictated classifications for the 2017-18 school year, it was technically correct to place East in Class D this season.

   Here's where it gets hairy, as if that wasn't already the case: The East/Community transition has one more year to go, with this year's 20 seniors exiting and a larger number of freshman arriving next fall. With the top end of Class C dropping from 279 to 269 and a net gain of students ahead, the school is going to have a Class B population from which to form a team but the October 2017 BEDS number of 254 (East's 20 senior won't count under the rules for all schools) that will be used would only move the campus up one notch to Class C.

   It's going to have to be a discussion for Section 6 in the short term, but the NYSPHSAA may have to do some amending of rules as well to head off future similar issues.

   That's especially important now that the NYSPHSAA is making the transition to relying on two-year-old BEDS data for determining classes. The close-the-school/reopen-the-school shuffle doesn't happen very often, but its still going to happen from time to time.

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