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Southampton girls basketball season is over after appeal is denied

Southampton girls basketball coach Richard Wingfield called the

Southampton girls basketball coach Richard Wingfield called the scheduling mishap "an honest mistake." Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Southampton girls basketball team's appeal was denied by Suffolk County's athletic council on Tuesday, ending the Mariners' season.

The team was ruled ineligible for the playoffs last week because it played 21 regular-season games, one more than the state rule allows. Southampton finished 13-8 overall and 10-6 in league play and would have been the third seed in the league playoffs.

“Southampton was denied in its appeal,” said Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, which oversees high school sports in Suffolk. “They exceeded the maximum number of contests and were deemed ineligible for postseason play. They have the right to appeal the decision to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.”

Southampton athletic director Darren Phillips said last week that the scheduling error was an oversight. He said Tuesday there is no plan to move forward with another appeal to the state.

“At this point, we’ve made our case as best we could,” Phillips said. “We were hoping that we could appeal to the local committee here and sort of send a message to the state that we felt the penalty was too severe or not fair.”

According to Combs, the Class B girls basketball playoffs bracket was posted late Tuesday afternoon after the official decision of the athletic council.

“We were prepared to have them in the tournament,” Combs said. “And we prepared to run the tournament without them.”

Phillips said the team was “upset and devastated.”

“You have to come back and tell them the news,” Phillips said. “That’s the hardest part.”

Southampton coach Richard Wingfield said he told Section XI there was “nothing dishonest” about the Mariners’ schedule, adding that he’s “never had an incident, not even close, one day in my life.” Wingfield has coached the team for 31 years.

The Mariners continued to practice during the appeal process. Wingfield said he has spoken with every player since the initial ruling and credited them for their resiliency.

Patty Oakley, whose daughter Caraline is a senior captain, called the decision “a big disappointment.”

“A rule was broken, we understand that,” Patty Oakley said. “But the girls are being penalized, and they worked so, so hard.”

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