Rattlers, Cobras not eligible for playoffs, championship


Senior Sports Reporter


WHENEVER the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association resumes its senior boys basketball season in the new year, they will have to do it with both powerhouses – CI Gibson Rattlers and CC Sweeting Cobras – on the sidelines.

After a free-for-all melee by the two schools that disrupted the start of the season on Monday, November 19, the Ministry of Education and the New Providence Association of High Schools Principals handed down the following suspensions to both the Rattlers and the Cobras senior boys basketball teams:

• Both teams will lose the game that the incident occurred in by forfeiture and will be suspended for the next two games they are scheduled to play.

• The two players that initiated the incident will be suspended for a third game.

• Both teams will not be eligible for the playoffs and the championship.

• Both teams will be placed on athletic probation for the next two years.

GSSSA president Alfred Forbes said while it’s a harsh suspension, they must do what is necessary to protect the integrity of the game.

Forbes noted that with school getting ready to close for the Christmas holiday, the GSSSA will not resume play until January, which will afford both teams sufficient time to appeal the decision, if they so desire.

When contacted, both CI Gibson’s head coach Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson and CC Sweeting’s head coach Mario Bowleg said they are disappointed in the decision, noting that it doesn’t make any sense for them to compete in the remainder of the season.

“This doesn’t make any sense. On one hand, they’re telling us that we have the right to compete in the season, but they won’t allow us to compete for the championship,” Johnson said. “That is why we play the game to be able to play for the championship. So I really don’t understand this decision.

“I think it’s more a personal decision against the teams because everybody knows that we are the two best teams in the league. I don’t understand how they expect us to play. We will already be down 0-3 by the time we play. And if we were to qualify for the playoffs, we still won’t be allowed to play. That really doesn’t make any sense.”

Johnson said they intend to appeal the decision because as the defending GSSSA champions, they are eager to get back on the court and defend their title.

“We have looked at the suspension and have already decided that we will appeal it,” Johnson said.”If you look at the situation, it’s something that was not as big as everybody made it out to be. Both teams love playing against each other. They have provided fierce competition for each other. It’s just one situation that occurred, but there’s no bad blood between the two schools.”

Johnson said it’s just disappointing that it escalated to the point that it did.

As for Bowleg, he felt that they were both dealt with unfairly.

“I don’t know what to say,” Bowleg said. “I felt they should have stayed with the original option, which would have been to suspend us for the rest of the season. To say to us that we can play in the regular season after losing the first three games, but if we make the playoffs or championship, we won’t be allowed to play, doesn’t make any sense.

“I don’t know who came up with the idea. I’m sorry to say it like that, considering that our schools are also going to be on athletic probation for the next two years. I don’t think it’s the right decision and it’s going to be one that will affect our players in the long run.”

Bowleg said CC Sweeting, who are the defending champions of the prestigious Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic , will definitely be appealing the decision because they don’t think it’s fair.

“I wish somebody who follows sports can tell me how this ruling makes any sense,” Bowleg said.

The Rattlers were leading the game 53-46 with about five minutes left in the third quarter when a fight broke out on the court between two players. Both benches cleared and it was reported that the melee resulted in fans rushing from the stands to get involved.

Referee Tony Williams, who along with Kennedy Polidor was officiating the game, said that after trying to restore order, they were forced to call off the game. Williams said the officials will not return to the floor to call any more senior boys’ games unless there is adequate police protection.

On Monday, it was rumoured that both teams would be suspended for the remainder of the season but be allowed to participate in any tournament that is being played outside of the GSSSA league, which would have included the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic.

However, that would have created another problem because just about all of the tournaments are sanctioned by the GSSSA.

The teams said they might as well have been suspended for the rest of the season, than to be hit by the official ruling that has been imposed by both the Ministry of Education and the New Providence Association of High Schools Principals. The ruling was handed down to the GSSSA.

There’s no word on when the season is expected to resume in January.


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