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Bianca Cuevas suspended from play for throwing a punch at Aaliyah Jones

Coach says league has it in for player

Brooklyn Daily
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By Joseph Staszewski

One of the Brooklyn’s best girls basketball players is being railroaded out of a chance to lead her team to a championship thanks to an unfair suspension, says her team’s coach and athletic director.

Nazareth High School junior guard Bianca Cuevas was banned from playing the rest of the season on Friday by a panel that oversees the Brooklyn-Queens Catholic High School girls basketball league because she took part in a post-game fight with Bishop Ford guard Aaliyah Jones after a game on Feb. 3.

It was the second time this season that Cuevas was scolded by officials for turning to fisticuffs. She was suspended two games for throwing a punch at Bishop Loughlin’s Imani Tate during a game in late January, but Nazareth athletic director Anthony Barnes says this time his player did what she had to do.

“She defended herself,” Barnes said.

Nazareth coach Ron Kelley said the league has had it in for Cuevas since it considered adding more games to her first two-game suspension after she sat on the bench with teammates when she should have been in he stands during contests against Mary Louis and Ford.

Cuevas played against St. Francis Prep on Feb. 6, but Barnes got call from St. Edmund principal John Lorenzetti, the head of the league’s disciplinary committee, who told him Cuevas was not allowed to play against Archbishop Molloy on the Feb. 13 because she was on the bench during her suspension.

But Barnes says there is no such rule on the books.

So Nazareth appealed and the next day, and Cuevas was reinstated, according to Barnes, who claimed he was then informed by the league that it was looking into Cuevas’ involvement in the fight with Jones. On Friday, the team got word Cuevas would not be allowed to play the rest of the season, a decision that surprised Cuevas’ teammates.

“We didn’t now that was going to happen,” guard Shiclasia Brown said. “She didn’t do anything.”

Kelley hopes the suspension doesn’t further tarnish people’s perception of Cuevas in the future.

“She’s a competitor,” Kelley said. “Everyone has this thought about her that she’s a mean and nasty kid, but she’s not.”

The league also suspended Jones two games for her part in the ruckus.

Bishop Ford athletic director Pete Goyco declined comment on Jones’ role in the fight. League president Denise Hillig did not return phone messages Friday.

Cuevas was named the 24th ranked prospect in her class by ESPN, an all-sports cable television network.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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