Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kyrie Irving and Michael Gilchrist combined for 46 points Saturday night as Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick hammered Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, 91-64, in the Nike Extravaganza in Santa Ana, Calif.
The Celtics won despite a huge controversy swirling around the program.
St. Patrick will be declared ineligible for the upcoming New Jersey state tournament at a New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association hearing this week because it allegedly held illegal preseason practices, according to a source with direct knowledge.
The NJSIAA said there is a “99 percent” chance the hearing will be moved to Friday from Wednesday because of the impending snowstorm.
The executive committee of the NJSIAA is expected to “rubber stamp” the recommendation of the Controversies Committee to suspend St. Patrick, the source said.
“We had several open gyms prior to the season – that was the accusation,” Celtics coach Kevin Boyle told MaxPreps.com after the Taft game. “It has to go to another committee to decide if it’s overturned or if they agree with the penalty.
“I’ll say this: something will come out that is really going to surprise people.”
The source said Boyle will receive a three-game suspension — potentially beginning with Friday’s game against Oak Hill Academy in the PrimeTime Shootout — and the program faces two years of probation.
If that happens, the Celtics won’t be able to defend the Tournament of Champions title they won last season.
“That would be very disappointing,” the Duke-bound Irving, who scored a game-high 24 points against Taft, told MaxPreps.com. “This is my senior year and I’d love to end my year winning back-to-back state titles.
“The thing is we can’t control or pay any attention to that. It’s a ruling. We have to get past all that and just play good basketball. I think we did that tonight.”
If St. Patrick can’t defend its title, the T of C would be wide open to a number of challengers, including Paterson Catholic, St. Anthony, Plainfield and Seton Hall Prep.
Boyle said he hoped his team could compete in either the state tournament or the ESPN Rise National Invitational in April.
“We’ll see what is available to us,” Boyle told MaxPreps. “We’re confident and hopeful it will be in one of those two events.”
An ESPN spokesman said the tournament will only invite teams that have been cleared by their state’s governing bodies.
“Before we will even approach a school we have to know that the state association or the governing body will allow them to play in the games,” Crystal Howard said. “If they don’t say that schools in their governance could play in our games, we won’t even consider going against those rulings and actually select or invite.”
(Photo courtesy SI.com)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.