The Beacon High School boys basketball team was left stunned and upset after receiving the news from their coach Wednesday evening: They have no wins this season.
It was news to them because the team had accrued seven victories already and garnered consideration as an area elite after winning the Duane Davis Memorial Tournament last week.
But Beacon forfeited all of those wins — along with its four victories during the football season last fall — because of an ineligible player on both teams’ rosters, as first reported by Hudson Valley Sports Report.
The school would not reveal who the athlete is or why he was deemed ineligible, but basketball coach Scott Timpano said, “It wasn’t the player’s fault. He didn’t even know.”
Timpano suggested it was an oversight that “slipped through all this time” and made the athlete unqualified to compete in either sport. He was informed of the discrepancy by the school administration on Wednesday, then the athletic department reported itself to Section 1.
Once it has been revealed that a team used an ineligible player, all of its victories are wiped off and credited to the losing teams. The Bulldogs had a 7-3 record a few days ago, but now are 0-10 with a postseason berth in jeopardy.
John Jay, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Valley Central, North Rockland, Ramapo and Peekskill each will have a victory added to their record. As will Spackenkill, which lost to Beacon, 76-64, in the Duane Davis Memorial Tournament final on New Year’s Eve. The Spartans, by default, have been named tournament champion.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Spackenkill coach Tom Bell said, “but I give Beacon a lot of credit for rectifying it.”
A number of factors can lead to a player being ruled ineligible, and academics is often a cause. Timpano insisted that wasn’t the case here, saying all of his players “have gotten done in the classroom exactly what they need to.”
The issue, whatever it was, has been resolved, Timpano said, and the player will sit out Beacon’s two games this week before being reactivated. Beacon hosts Our Lady of Lourdes at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, then visits Sleepy Hollow at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.
A call to Beacon football coach Tony Truscello was not returned before the Journal’s print deadline on Saturday.
Ernie Verdis, president of the Dutchess County Basketball Coaches Association, said he couldn’t remember a similar incident occurring in basketball locally. It has yet to be determined if Beacon will have to return the Duane Davis Memorial Tournament trophy. That, Verdis said, will be decided during a meeting at season’s end.
“We’ll take the win and be humble about it,” said Bell, who informed his team on Friday that its record had improved to 8-1. “It’s not really how you want to get a win, though. Beacon earned it on the court.”
The Bulldogs reached the Section 1 Class A semifinals last season and entered what many suspected would be a rebuilding phase this season. But Beacon turned heads with its impressive start, which included wins over top teams. Now the group must climb out of a hole.
“When you hear something like this, it’s hard for an adult to process, let alone kids,” Timpano said of his team’s reaction. “They’re disappointed, but I’m proud of the way they’re handling it. They understand it’s not the kid’s fault, so they aren’t blaming him. That makes it easier to stick together.”
With 10 games remaining, the Bulldogs do still have a chance at the playoffs. Section 1 uses a points-based system which requires teams to compile at least 29 points to qualify. Each victory is worth four points and, win or lose, one or two bonus points are credited for each game against an opponent that finishes the season with a winning record.
Simply put, Beacon would assure itself of a playoff spot if it can win eight of its final games. Verdis said he “wouldn’t be surprised at all” if the Bulldogs qualified.
“It puts a chip on our shoulder,” Timpano said. “We want to get into sectionals and make some noise. We gave away the wins on the record, but it doesn’t take away how hard and how well we’ve played. We keep that with us.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4