Seven members of Boys & Girls High School’s championship basketball team were suspended from competition Monday and will miss the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions in Albany this weekend.
Jeffland Neverson, a dynamic scorer and defensive stalwart, and sixth man Anthony Hemingway are among the players deemed inactive for Saturday’s game against Mount Vernon.
Three more on the inactive list are key backups: Nkosi Brown, Dykweil Bryan and Teyvon Myers.
Principal Bernard Gassaway confirmed the suspension, citing an academic policy that requires student-athletes to pass, and regularly attend, their first period class.
The students "became ineligible for a combination of two reasons: first period and attendance,” Gassaway wrote in an email. “When considering their eligibility, the tournament is irrelevant.”
Gassaway implemented the policy at the beginning of the school year and it has plagued Coach Ruth Lovelace’s team all season. First Antione Slaughter and Hemingway missed five games early in the season; next it was Mike Taylor, who returned from a six-game suspension just in time for the .
But it nonetheless comes at a heart-breaking time for Kangraroo fans. Lovelace finally had her full arsenal available in the PSAL Championship game at Madison Square Garden and it showed, beating nationally-ranked Abraham Lincoln 62-55 to defend its title.
“You might say we’re the underdog,” Lovelace said. “But you got to leave that up to the critics.”
After practice on Monday, Taylor, the team’s leading scorer, expressed a combination of resentment and resilience over the news. “They’re just trying to keep us down. They’ve been keeping us down all season long,” he said.
“But we play hard automatically. We still have four of our starters, including our MVP,” Taylor said, referring to Slaughter, who won the award in the PSAL Championship game.
Boys & Girls play Mount Vernon at the Times Union Center at 3:45 p.m. If it wins, it will play Christ the King on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.