MPA undecided on what would happen if Cheverus forfeits Gold Ball

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If the Maine Principals’ Association wins its appeal and Cheverus High School is forced to forfeit the Class A boys’ state basketball championship it won two weeks ago, it remains unclear who, if anyone, would be named the new champion.

If the MPA decides to give the trophy to runner-up Edward Little, the Red Eddies would decline it, if it were up to the players.

As it stands now, the MPA is appealing a Cumberland County Superior Court ruling that allowed Indiana Faithfull, a Mr. Basketball finalist, to play for Cheverus in the tournament. Faithfull had to sit out the Stags’ final five games of the regular season after the MPA ruled he had used the eight semesters of high school eligibility the MPA permits for participants in high school athletics.

A native of Sydney, Australia, Faithfull transferred to Cheverus for the start of his sophomore year in the fall of 2007. But while in Australia, he had used the equivalent of three semesters of eligibility before moving to Maine. Cheverus discovered the extra semester during this past season and reported it to the MPA.

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Faithfull’s family filed for an injunction, and just hours prior to Cheverus’ opening-round game against Scarborough, Superior Court Justice Joyce A. Wheeler granted it, allowing Faithfull to play. He played in all three games of the Western Class A tournament and was named the Most Valuable Player. He went on to score a game-high 23 points in the Stags’ 55-50 win over Edward Little in the state title game on Feb. 27.

Richard Durost, the MPA’s executive director, said Cheverus will forfeit the title if the MPA’s appeal is successful. But because there is no precedent for a team with an ineligible player winning a state championship, where the Gold Ball will reside if that happens is still undecided.

“If we win the court case, which we expect to, that would be new territory for us,” Durost said. “We would have to make a determination at that point as to whether (the championship) would remain open or whether the teams Cheverus lost to would fill those slots.”

Durost said the MPA would likely ask for a recommendation from its basketball and management committees before proceeding.

“That’s not likely to occur until after the court case is complete, which will be several months down the road,” he said.

Edward Little coach Mike Adams said he would have mixed feelings if the MPA awarded the title to his team. EL has not won a boys’ basketball state championship since 1946.

“I don’t think there’s a right answer or a wrong answer to it,” he said. “It’s something that I’d have to talk to my team about.”

According to senior guard Yusuf Iman, a team co-captain, the answer would be “No thanks.”

“We met as a team and talked about it and, basically, we came to the conclusion that the score was 55-50, and we lost, so we’re going to lose like champions and walk out with our heads up,” Iman said. “That’s not how we want to win. What are we going to put on the ball? I don’t want an asterisk on the ball. With the history that we have with the 1946 championship, I don’t want that to be the way we win our first (since then).”

Even with the 2010 Gold Ball in their trophy case, the Red Eddies, who lost to Thornton Academy in last year’s championship game, would have missed out on many of the perks of winning the title, Adams said.

“You dream to do what we saw Thornton do and Cheverus do, which is to cut down the nets and to celebrate in the locker room and to walk around your town with your heads held high,” he said.

“It’s a no-win situation for everybody,” he added. “It’s a shame if they are stripped of it to have nobody win it, because then you’ve told 31 Class A teams that this was a year that didn’t exist.”

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