Thompson may forfeit its playoff victory
The Sharks are suspected of using an ineligible player, which would put Aiea into the semifinals
Thompson Academy will have to forfeit its first playoff basketball win, according to coaches from both Farrington and Aiea.
The Sharks, who defeated Aiea 62-60 in the opening round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Division playoffs Saturday, are suspected of using an ineligible player in the contest.
Aiea is practicing in preparation to take Thompson's place in the semifinals against Farrington at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Kaiser.
Neither Oahu Interscholastic Association executive director Dwight Toyama nor OIA basketball coordinator Hugh Taufaasau could be reached for comment on the matter.
A transfer rule is at the heart of the issue. A Word of Life student who played at least one preseason game for the Firebrands entered the playoff game for the Sharks.
Thompson coach Sol Batoon contends the player was eligible and said the OIA had not contacted him about the issue as of yesterday evening, and his team was going ahead with practices as scheduled.
"It would be a great disappointment," Batoon said. "We worked so hard, and did all the right things as coaches."
According to Batoon, all the proper paperwork was filled out for the player's transfer. He
added that there is no restriction on Interscholastic League of Honolulu players coming to OIA schools, whereas there are restrictions when an athlete transfers from an OIA school to an ILH school.
Word of Life athletic director Joe Onosai agreed.
"They can play for us this week, get kicked out of school, and play for another public school next week, and they're fine," Onosai said. "I've understood it like that for years."
Farrington coach Allan Silva saw the rule a different way. Silva said he was informed by Governors athletic director Harold Tanaka of Thompson's forfeit yesterday.
"These situations have happened before. The eligibility rules are very strict," Silva said.
He said that, to his knowledge, the player has to attend the school 30 days before the date of the competition before being eligible to participate.
Like Thompson, Aiea went ahead with two team practices leading up to tomorrow's semifinal.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Thompson), but at the same time it's a good redemption for our team," said Aiea coach Wyatt Tau. "We have a second chance, we just can't blow it."
Na Alii was the top OIA White West seed in the tournament, while Thompson was the fourth seed out of the White East. The Sharks had never appeared in the postseason in the Internet academy's four-year history.
Batoon said the player in question had started practicing with the team two weeks ago, and that he had cleared everything with Thompson principal Diana Oshiro. He said he was surprised that no officials had contacted him about the matter yesterday if something was amiss.
He remained defiant.
"You would think the OIA would call us, right? And say, 'We're looking into this, the game is under protest,' or something." Batoon said. "You cannot take away the 'W'. We still beat Aiea. It's sad that you gotta do that, sour grapes, that's disappointing."
The confusion qualifies as the second incident between the teams since the game's dramatic finish. The Sharks' Michael Alexander hit a reverse layup to win it with less than a second to play, and a scuffle between a Thompson fan and Aiea players on the court lasted a few minutes following the contest.
Onosai considered the forfeit situation's outcome a lose-lose situation.
"I think it's a shame, because somebody (one of the two teams practicing) loses straight up," said Onosai. "I think they're playing within the rules."