By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON April 25, 2006 A little more than a year after playing in the Section IX Class B Boys Basketball Championship game, the Sullivan West Bulldogs finally received the sectional championship plaque.
The team also received Section IX champion commemorative patches and T-shirts.
But the presentation, which was made earlier this month, did not take place on the basketball court. Instead, SW Coach Rick Ellison traveled to Wallkill High School on April 4 to receive the Class B championship items from a group of area athletic directors and Section IX officials.
Ellison graciously accepted the championship plaque, commemorative patches and T-shirts on behalf of SW Assistant Coaches Cliff Kelly and Bob Menges, the members of the Bulldogs 2004-2005 basketball team and Sullivan West Central School.
Its really bittersweet, Ellison said in a telephone interview a few days after accepting the championship plaque. But I am glad the Section IX officials handled the situation the way they did.
The situation to which Ellison referred is the investigation of the 2004-2005 John S. Burke Catholic School varsity boys basketball team. Following that review, the Section IX athletic council stripped Burke of the Section IX Class B title for using an ineligible player. The council also required Burke to relinquish the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV title.
Since Burke defeated SW on March 2, 2005 in the Section IX Class B championship game at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the Sullivan County Community College campus in Loch Sheldrake and on February 18, 2005 in a one-game playoff for the OCIAA Div. IV title at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs were presented with both championships.
The Burke team member whom the Section IX athletic council ruled to be ineligible Jason Green played a key role in the Eagles three wins in their four games against the Bulldogs during the 2004-2005 hoops season.
After helping Burke defeat SW in a regular season game in Goshen, Green, a junior forward, scored a team-high 13 points in the playoff game to decide the OCIAA Div. IV title. Green and his Burke teammates rallied in the final minute to beat the Bulldogs, 42-39.
In the Section IX Class B title game, Green led a second-half scoring surge. After the intermission, the Eagles soared to a 72-64 victory behind Green and junior forward Andrew Jackson. The two teammates combined to score 23 points in the second half as Burke grabbed a 43-42 lead at the end of the third period and extended that advantage to as many as 13 points in the final quarter.
Jackson finished the evening with a team-high 15 points, while Green recorded 14 points.
For Ellison, one of the most frustrating elements about the entire situation is not knowing how far the Bulldogs could have advanced in the state tournament. Since the Section IX Class B champion had a bye in the events first round, SW a quick, athletic team with seven seniors would have needed to win only one game to reach the state final four in Glens Falls.
The kids are still bitter about it, Ellison said of the 14 players on the 2004-2005 team.
Seven of those young men Sean Kelly, Joe Meyer, John Nober, Justin Polizzi, Sean Semenetz, Andre Trujillo and Joe Winski graduated from Sullivan West High School in June 2005. The other members of the squad Alan Ackermann, Kevin Brewer, Kevin Cappiello, Kienan Garn, Derek Hahn, Jonah LaGrutta and Brett Youmans played on the Bulldogs 2005-2006 varsity team.
It was nice that we finally received the title, Ellison commented. But I really hope this doesnt happen to somebody else.