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Jefferson girls’ basketball forfeits games

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The Thomas Jefferson girls’ basketball team has forfeited at least 10 league games – all victories – because no coach on the bench during those contests had proper paperwork as per PSAL rules, sources told Tuesday morning.

One coach must be a Department of Education licensed teacher with current First Aid, AED, and CPR certifications, according to PSAL regulations, or the team is subject to a forfeit. The PSAL website lists every one of Jefferson’s games, with the exception of its last two against Francis Lewis and Canarsie, as forfeits.

DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said the league never received paperwork from Jefferson with regards to coach Dwayne (Pearl) Washington's teacher certification.

"The PSAL requires documentation and it never received the documentat­ion," Feinberg said via e-mail.

PSAL girls’ basketball coordinator Brenda Morgan declined comment and referred questions to the school. When reached by phone, Thomas Jefferson principal Lottie Almonte denied having knowledge of the situation.

“I didn’t hear anything about that,” she said.

Head coach Dwayne (Pearl) Washington could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning. A school source told later Tuesday afternoon that the decision could be overturned. The source said Woody Souffrant, a certified teacher and the school's junior varsity girls' basketball coach, has been on the bench all season. A team only needs one of its coaches to be certified.

“When they do their research and their homework, they’ll find all that out,” the source said.

Jefferson was undefeated in Brooklyn AA Group 2 and a near lock for obtaining a top-five seed in the upcoming PSAL Class AA city playoffs. The school hired Washington, a Brooklyn basketball legend and current parent coordinator at Canarsie HS, as coach just before the season, but has never listed him as the head coach on the PSAL website.

Even if they had to forfeit every game, the Orange Wave would technically still be eligible for the postseason since every ‘AA’ team qualifies. It’s unclear whether or not there will be an exception to that rule in this instance and if there isn’t, it’s not clear who will be coaching the team beginning with Wednesday’s game against Grand Street Campus. A Jefferson source said that a coaching change is not expected.

Two years ago when Jefferson was playing in Class A, the team forfeited seven games for using ineligible players. The Orange Wave still made the playoffs, got the No. 1 seed and won the ‘A’ city title.

Calvin Young, the coach who built the program up from the ‘B’ league, resigned in the middle of last season – the team’s first in ‘AA’ – and Jefferson boys’ basketball coaches Lawrence Pollard and Seldon Jefferson took over the reigns. The Orange Wave went undefeated in league play and made it to the PSAL Class AA semifinals, where they fell to Manhattan Center.

Rueben McLaughlin, who coached the Jefferson players over the summer and early in the fall, was all but hired as coach at the East New York school. But at the 11th hour, Washington was given the job because of McLaughlin’s past transgressions at Lincoln HS, where he was fired for allegedly recruiting. Washington, the former star at Boys High and Syracuse University, has faced an uphill battle because the girls on the team had their hearts set on playing for McLaughlin.

Things seemed to be getting better, though, as Washington brought in assistant coaches Unique Nelson, Chalor Thompson and Carlyle Bennett, all of whom had previously coached the team’s players. Nelson and Thompson were both on Young’s staff.

Jefferson is slated to host undefeated South Shore on Thursday in a highly anticipated league game.

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