High Seed May Draw Home Court In Final

Posted: January 16, 1992

LAWRENCEVILLE — This year's South Jersey Group 4 boys' basketball championship game may be played on the home court of the highest-seeded finalist, according to Robert Kanaby, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

"We have precious few options left," Kanaby said following yesterday's monthly meeting of the NJSIAA executive committee at Lawrenceville School. ''There are no other possible neutral courts that we can think of."

Usually, state tournament games are played on the home court of the highest-seeded team through the sectional semifinals. The South Jersey final, state semifinal and state final are traditionally played on neutral courts.

Seedings will be determined by each team's won-lost record after the games of Feb. 4. A school must have at least a .500 record at that time to qualify.

The last three South Jersey Group 4 finals were played at Eastern, which is now a Group 4 school. Camden defeated Atlantic City last season and beat Cumberland in 1990. Pennsauken defeated Atlantic City in 1989.

The 1988 game was played in an empty Overbrook gym between Atlantic City and Camden after an Atlantic City police report indicated there was the possibility of gang violence. Camden won that game, 81-80. The contest originally had been scheduled to be played in Willingboro.

"We will continue to search for a neutral site," said Kanaby, "but if we don't have one by next month, we will ask the executive committee to either approve the use of a home court or come up with another alternative."

Kanaby indicated that the state Group 4 semifinal between the South Jersey and Central Jersey champions may also be played on the home court of the highest-seeded team. That game had been played each year at Monmouth College, but the school declined to host it again after a postgame melee among fans following last season's Camden-Trenton game.

In a related matter, NJSIAA counsel Michael Herbert confirmed that Camden has filed an appeal of its suspension with the state commissioner of education.

"They originally filed an appeal for emergent relief in December," Herbert said, "but the commissioner ruled that waiting more than two months to file does not support the need for emergent relief. He did, however, order an expedited briefing period."

Camden was found responsible by the NJSIAA for the postgame incident and was fined $1,000, ordered to pay for damages to Monmouth's gym, and suspended

from the state boys' basketball tournament for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. The 1993 suspension will be lifted if the association determines that Camden exhibits better crowd control during this season.

Herbert indicated that a ruling from the commissioner is expected by the end of February. The state tournament begins March 2.

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In other news, the executive committee instructed its controversies committee to investigate the South Jersey High School Ice Hockey League and the participation in the league by a team representing Bishop Eustace.

"We discovered, by accident, that Bishop Eustace had a school-sponsored team playing in this league with teams that had no scholastic affiliation," said NJSIAA assistant director James Loper. "That is a violation of our rules.

"When we contacted Kathy Lange, the athletic director at Bishop Eustace," Loper added, "she was extremely cooperative. Bishop Eustace has withdrawn sponsorship of its ice hockey team for this year and will work to establish a program in the future that meets all of our requirements."

The South Jersey High School League is made up of Eustace plus teams identified as the Renegades, Chiefs, Cougars, Vikings, Lancers, Indians and Minutemen.

"Those nicknames correspond with Shawnee, Cherokee, Cherry Hill East, Eastern, Holy Cross, Lenape and Washington Township," said Loper, "but the athletic directors at those schools told us the teams had no association with their schools."

Loper also released a report on disqualifications from fall sports in 1991 that showed a statewide reduction in the number of ejections from 1990.

The report also showed that the 14-school Tri-County Conference had the best record in the state with just four disqualifications. The 21-school Cape- Atlantic League was the second worst in the state with 36 total ejections.

The final financial figures for the 1991 football playoffs were released and showed a slight increase in income from 1990. More than $278,000 in net profit has been received by the NJSIAA, not including two games not yet filed.

The biggest South Jersey gate was the more than $8,600 at the Group 1 final between Clayton and Woodbury.

The NJSIAA approved trips to South Carolina in April by the baseball teams

from Egg Harbor Township and Gloucester Catholic.

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