Highland forfeits Golden League title

The Highland High School boys basketball team forfeited 10 total wins – five of them league wins – and gave up its share of this year’s Golden League championship as a result of playing an illegible student, Bulldogs head coach Jeff Smith said Friday.

Highland and Knight won a share of the Golden League title after the teams finished with identical 13-1 league records. As a result of Highland vacating the five league wins, the title will go solely to Knight.

Smith said the CIF issued ruling to the school late Thursday night that stated Highland incorrectly filed paperwork on one of its transfer players. The player moved to the Antelope Valley, which meant his paperwork was filed as a valid change of residence, Smith said.

But according to the CIF, the circumstances of the player’s transfer dictated that his paperwork be filed as a hardship.

“When the final statement came out, we were all pretty devastated,” Smith said. “It was one of those things where it hits you hard.”

Smith declined to name the player, but confirmed that he played 12 games with the team and transferred from Jordan High School in Long Beach.

Smith said he and other members of Highland’s administration still believes all the paperwork was filed correctly and no mistakes were made.

“It was just the letter of the law that changed one thing and deemed the student ineligible,” Smith said. “It’s something that we’ve never had to deal with in my 18 years (at Highland). But I guess after 18 years, you see pretty much everything.”

Highland’s league record now stands at 8-6, which is tied for third place with Quartz Hill. Lancaster moves to second place in the league.

Knight now holds a 14-0 record in the league.

Knight head coach Tom Hegre downplayed the situation with Highland, saying his team felt they deserved a league championship regardless of the circumstances. Highland forfeited its only win this season against rival Knight.

Hegre, however, said winning games by forfeit isn’t as meaningful as winning games on the court.

“Nobody wants to win games that way,” Hegre said.

Dennis Henderson, coordinator of the Golden League, did not immediately return phone calls for comment.