At 13-2, with five regular season games remaining on the schedule, the St. Mary’s of Lynn boys’ basketball team is line for a top five seed in the Division 3 North tournament.
However, because of a recent ruling by the MIAA’s Board of Directors regarding ongoing litigation, the school has been informed that the Spartans will be the last seed in the bracket.
St. Mary’s is planning to appeal the decision with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council (MIAC).
At issue is Rule 29.3, and its interpretation, in the MIAA Handbook, which states “Student or teams that have gained injunctions forcing their entry into MIAA tournaments will be seeded last.”
In December, Chibuikem Onwuogu, a 17-year-old transfer from Peabody High, received an injunction to play this season for St. Mary’s. Claiming that there was recruitment involved in his move, Peabody did not sign off on a waiver for the 6-foot-5 Onwuogu to play this season. He was denied in his appeal to the MIAA, prompting the court action.
“It’s a matter of interpretation,” said St. Mary’s athletic director Jeff Newhall. “We are not forcing our way into the tournament. We are already in. We are not using a court order to get into the tournament.”
Newhall is hoping that the appeal will be heard quickly because the decision either way will impact every team in the bracket.
“Say we are seeded No. 16, the No. 1 seed now has to play St. Mary’s,” he said. “People need to know this. Teams are being scouted based on what they believe the bracket is going to be.”
A decision must be rendered before Friday, Feb. 23, when the MIAA basketball tournament pairings and seeds will be released.Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org