Roger Brown on H.S. Basketball: Eligibility is the issue at Pembroke Academy
After going 22-0 en route to winning last year’s Division II championship, the Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball team is off to a 6-0 start in NHIAA games this season and has won those six games by an average of 23 points.
Scary numbers for sure, but here’s something even scarier: The Spartans easily could be much, much better.
Three players who began the season with the Pembroke program transferred to the school before the start of the current school year. Max Curran, a 6-foot, 7-inch junior, is still with the team, but the New Hampshire Interscholastic Association ruled in December that Rob Wilson, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Adam Presutti, a 6-foot-8 senior, are ineligible this season.
Wilson played at Londonderry High School last season, and Presutti spent last season at Merrimack Valley in the Concord village of Penacook. Pembroke athletics director Suzanne Klink confirmed Thursday that the school is appealing the NHIAA’s decision.
“It’s about a residency issue,” Klink said. “Anybody who transfers to our school, we have a protocol. If anything doesn’t look right, we investigate. This has been going on for months.”
The controversy stems from the fact that Wilson and Presutti both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa. Matt Alosa, Frank’s son, is Pembroke’s head coach and an assistant coach with the Granite State Raiders. Both have heard accusations that they steer their AAU players to Pembroke.
“My dad does coach the older kids in the (AAU) program, and I’m in the gym when I can get there to help out,” Matt Alosa said. “It’s not our practice to get kids to move. Whether it’s high school or AAU, I’m here to help the kids get better.
“(Wilson and Presutti) don’t play basketball for me, so I’m not going to comment on any personal issues involving students at Pembroke Academy,” he continued. “My job is to coach the basketball team.”Pat Corbin, the NHIAA’s executive director, said each player violated the NHIAA by-laws regarding transfers.
The NHIAA’s transfer rule (By-Law Article II, Sect. 4, in the “NHIAA Handbook”) includes the following:
“A student who transfers enrollment with a corresponding move into a new school district by his/her parents or guardians shall be declared eligible immediately if all other eligibility requirements are met. A change of residence under this By-Law shall consist of the moving of all household properties to the new address and the parents and student(s) actually living there ...
“Residence is defined as the place where the student’s parents have established their permanent home. This means that the family regularly eats and sleeps in a specific place of lodging ...”
The handbook also states that students are not allowed to transfer for primarily athletic purposes. If it is deemed that a player has transferred for athletic purposes, the player will be ineligible for 365 days.
“In my judgement there were other issues that did not make either of these an appropriate move,” Corbin said. “I can’t get into specifics because there are now attorneys representing both young men.”
Corbin’s ruling was upheld by an NHIAA eligibility committee, a group that includes principals, athletics directors and coaches from throughout the state.
“The final level of due process is our appeals board,” Corbin said. “We’re trying to put something together for next week.”
According to Pembroke Academy headmaster Mike Reardon, both Wilson and Presutti live in the Pembroke Academy school district.
“The first thing we did was contact Pat because we had some concerns about all those kids,” Reardon said. “We started the process last summer. We conducted numerous interviews, and we had surveillance done by the local police department.
“We’re a school, not an investigative unit, but our process convinced us that both boys are here legitimately. They’re not here (just) to play basketball, although basketball is part of their identity.
“Obviously we’re hoping both boys can play this year. That’s why we’re doing this.”
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THE FIFTH annual Hoops for Hope event, a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, will take place Jan. 28 at ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough.
The ConVal and Conant of Jaffrey boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will meet in a doubleheader that night, and all proceeds will be donated to families in the ConVal and Conant school districts who are dealing with breast cancer. The girls’ game is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., with the boys’ game to follow.
Hoops for Hope T-shirts will be sold at the door. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TUESDAY was a rough night for both varsity basketball teams at Timberlane Regional in Plaistow.
The Timberlane boys’ team had its losing streak reach 69 games with a 68-41 defeat against Pinkerton Academy of Derry. Meanwhile, the girls dropped a 61-3 decision at Pinkerton. The Owls had one field goal in the loss and were held scoreless in the second and fourth quarters.
The Timberlane boys were hoping the program’s first victory since January 2010 would come against Manchester West in Plaistow Friday night.
Roger Brown covers high school basketball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.