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Desert Pines’ forfeits delay Sunrise playoffs

Desert Pines’ boys basketball team hoped to have already won a home playoff game and be preparing today for a Sunrise Region semifinal.

Not only was the Jaguars’ game Tuesday delayed, but they collected three losses in the meantime — and now must win a road game to get to the semifinals.

Desert Pines forfeited three Northeast League games Tuesday after the school determined it used an ineligible player in games against Canyon Springs, Chaparral and Las Vegas at the start of league play.

The forfeits moved the Jaguars from the top seed in the league to No. 3, shuffled the pairings for the Sunrise Region playoffs and forced the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association to delay the start of the Sunrise playoffs until today.

“It’s sad for the kids,” Desert Pines principal Tim Stephens said.

The school learned Friday of an allegation that one of its players participated in a game after missing at least one period of school on the days of the first three league games, a violation of Clark County School District rules.

“I’m still not positive the student they alleged missed class on two of those days,” Stephens said. “The teacher of that class was out sick today. I could verify one was an absence. We took the high road and forfeited the other two games. I’m not going to get our kids into the playoffs and end up with them having to forfeit more games.”

Desert Pines, which finished 11-1 in the Northeast, fell to 8-4 in league play with the forfeits. Instead of hosting Southeast League No. 4 seed Coronado in the region quarterfinals, the Jaguars are headed to co-Southeast League champion Silverado tonight.

Eldorado (9-3), which also forfeited a game to Valley, is the No. 1 seed in the Northeast. Canyon Springs, which was scheduled to play at Silverado, will instead host Liberty tonight.

“In fairness to everyone involved, we felt we would bump (the region playoffs) back a day,” NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine said. “The forfeits did change who schools would play. We want to make sure it’s fair for everybody.”

Eldorado was one of at least a handful of schools that was asked by the school district to conduct an investigation Tuesday into whether their teams had similar eligibility issues.

The district relies on schools to self-report infractions as it lacks the manpower in its activities office to follow up on each allegation at each school.

School district executive director of athletics Ray Mathis did not return a phone call seeking comment.

“A red flag had been run up the pole that there were some athletes at several schools who were in violation of the attendance policy,” Bonine said. “Some of the schools mentioned investigated and found out they were not out of compliance. Desert Pines and Eldorado investigated and found they were out of compliance.”

Said Stephens: “I certainly feel there were many other schools out there that were in violation.”

The revised Sunrise quarterfinal schedule is Coronado at Eldorado, Liberty at Canyon Springs, Desert Pines at Silverado and Las Vegas at Foothill.

The region semifinals are Thursday and the finals Friday, both at Liberty.

To win the region, Desert Pines would have to win at Silverado tonight, then beat possibly Eldorado in a semifinal and win a third game in three days Friday.

“As far as I’m concerned, our kids are the best team in our conference,” said Stephens, who added that he expected all of Desert Pines’ players to be eligible tonight. “They’re tough kids.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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