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Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015: New Jersey's fix for football gets shot down

   Leading off today: Well, so much for that.

   On Dec. 7, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association voted to separate public and non-public schools in football and in qualifying for the state wrestling tournament.

   On Monday, New Jersey Commissioner of Education David Hespe reversed the controversial votes, citing the premise that "fairness" should be a two-way street, reported.

   In a letter to the NJSIAA, Hespe wrote: "It is clear that some NJSIAA member schools are frustrated by the non-competitive nature of playing elite non-public schools, raising both fairness and safety concerns. However, non-public schools have also raised concerns about discrimination, equal athletic opportunity and the ability to develop full schedules without increased burdens to the non-public schools."

   The football proposal creating separate schedules for public and private schools was pushed through largely to deal with a handful of very successful private school programs in the northern portion of the state, but would have made life difficult for smaller schools -- many of which had been competing amicably against local public schools. They would have been forced into their own statewide conference and left them to fill their own schedules.

   Hespe wrote that even if a competitive gap exists, the new rule "does not ensure that all other non-public schools will be able to continue with appropriately matched public schools in their region."

   The proposal would deprive those smaller programs of a full schedule, which "clearly violates the state's well-established policy of equal athletic opportunity."

   Though Hespe's decision on football surprised some, his voiding of the new wrestling configuration did not. The Dec. 7 vote crammed private-school wrestlers into one narrow route into the state individual championships, which was viewed as inconsistent with the contention that the issue with non-public schools was that they were recruiting "all-star" teams.

   The latest New Jersey development will likely be of interest in numerous states, including New York. Last month, superintendents from 18 suburban Rochester school districts sought to have private schools removed from the Section 5 and NYSPHSAA tournaments.

   Deadline ahead: The process has started for the selection of Mr. New York Basketball and Miss New York Basketball by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, with the first deadline a little more than three weeks away.

   BCANY will accept nominations of current seniors from New York varsity high school coaches and recognized media through Jan. 21. A committee will pare the list of nominations down to three to five finalists, leading to online voting by organization members Feb. 1-10. The selection committee will then make its final choice in early March.

   The criteria to be considered:

  • 1. Basketball skills and accomplishments
  • 2. Academic standing (not grades, but a student in good standing)
  • 3. Must be a senior at an accredited New York high school
  • 4. Community service
  • 5. Leadership
  • 6. Character
   More details and the official nomination form are available online.

   Iona Prep's Matt Ryan and Long Island Lutheran's Lauren Brozoski were the 2015 award recipients.

   Back in top form: The Journal News had a very good feature today on Fox Lane senior basketball player Matt Redhead, who posted 23 points and six rebounds against Bishop Loughlin.

   Late last winter, the 6-foot-5 post player's performance tailed off significantly at the same time his weight was plunging by 29 pounds. It was only after the season concluded that doctors determined that undiagnosed diabetes had been sapping his strength and energy.

   "All the calories I was eating were being flushed out of my body," Redhead told the paper. "I wasn't really using them. I was just sort of feeding off of my muscle tissue. I could tell

throughout the season, I couldn't do small things -- box people out, go up strong for layups or rebounds. I just felt weaker. When I got the diagnosis, it all made sense."

   Redhead had a doctor's appointment the day after the season-ending loss to Clarkstown South in the 2015 Section 1 tournament. He was immediately hospitalized for five days to get his blood sugar levels under control, which is done now with the help of an insulin pump we wears off the court. He's bulked back up to 195 pounds.

   "He looks so much better on the court," coach Mike Tomassi said following Tuesday's win over Harborfields. "He played 30 minutes today. I think he played 32 last night. In the past, he could do that, but he wouldn't have given this kind of consistent effort on the offensive and defensive end. It's not that he didn't want to give it, his body was just shutting down on him."

    • Bishop Loughlin won the Slam Dunk championship 67-65 over Spring Valley as sophomore guard Markquis Nowell, a transfer from St. Anthony's (N.J.), made all nine of his fourth-quarter free throws.

   "That's what he does. He calms everybody down and takes care of business," Loughlin coach Edwin Gonzalez said. "He refuses to lose."

   Injury report: Boston College recruit Emma Guy, an all-state center, did not suit up in Penfield's 58-54 loss to Peekskill in the girls' Slam Dunk final. Guy suffered what is believed to be a minor knee injury the previous night and was held out as a precaution.

   Lanay Rodney led the way for Peekskill with 35 points.

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