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Playoff hopes on the line


When it comes to football, Akeem "Feathers" Green and John Brown are winners, with three Public League Division D titles in four years.

Today, the Edward Bok Technical High seniors are hoping to experience a similar feeling on the basketball court by clinching a Public League playoff spot. The Wildcats enter today’s regular-season finale against Prep Charter still alive, courtesy of an unexpected development in Division D.

On Monday, Southern coach George Anderson discovered that one of his athletes was a fifth-year player, making him ineligible. As a result, Southern had to forfeit all of its games played before Tuesday, which gives Bok an additional win, and puts the Wildcats in a three-way tie for second in Division D.

In December, the players thought it was a goal they could attain on their own. But after picking up a big win over Furness last Thursday, Bok’s record was 5-6, making the playoffs a long shot.

"I played in ninth, 10th and 11th grades, and this year I really wanted it because it’s my last year," said Brown, of 22nd and Mifflin streets.

Green, of the 2200 block of Pierce Street, shared the positive outlook when the season started. "We had high expectations this year, but we aren’t doing as well as expected," he said before Monday’s announcement.

Suddenly, though, the Wildcats have some newfound playoff hopes, as they enter today’s regular-season finale with a 7-5 record, which has them tied with Roxborough and Furness. Bok has the edge over Furness due to last week’s win, while Roxborough defeated both teams, which gives it a slight advantage in the Division D race for second — an automatic playoff spot. Today, Roxborough plays Audenried, whose only win came via a Southern forfeit.

Southern had entered the week in first with an 11-1 record, but has since dropped to last, while Parkway, 11-1, takes over the Division D lead.

Division C and D squads share six playoff berths, with the first four spots going to the top two teams in each division. Franklin, 10-2, and Engineering and Science and Mastbaum, both 8-4, are the frontrunners for the final two spots. Mastbaum defeated Bok during the regular season.

Back in December, coach Lloyd Jenkins thought his team was talented enough to finish the season with eight or nine wins, which now remains a strong possibility. With the playoff picture looking foggy last week, Jenkins was trying to prepare his team for another run next season.

"We only have four or five players back from last year," Jenkins said. "This year we are very young and very inexperienced."

The Wildcats sure looked mature in Tuesday’s hard-fought 63-61 double-overtime win over Lamberton. Green scored 15 points, which included connecting on four crucial free throws in the second overtime. Brown also scored 15, while junior James Pope led the way with 19.

The Wildcats also picked up a 57-46 victory last Thursday against local rival Furness. Bok took a commanding 33-19 lead at halftime, but when the team scored just four points in the third quarter, the advantage suddenly shrunk to two. Pope led the Wildcats with 18 points, while Green, who drops his football nickname "Feathers" on the basketball court, had 16.

"We are just playing for respect and bragging rights," he said.

On the football field, Green had no problem getting respect from his Public League foes as "Feathers," and ranked among the city’s best rushers in the process. He finished his high-school career with 1,009 yards, making him the first rusher in Bok history to break the 1,000-yard plateau. He also set a school single-game rushing record with 223 yards against Mastbaum, and broke it again with a 227-yard performance against Edison. He’ll play in the city all-star game later this year.

Green is hoping to play college football at Shippensburg or Delaware State.

More importantly, his offensive contributions played a major role in Bok finishing 5-0 in Division D play and 7-2 overall.

Brown also played both sports, but Bok’s season-ending 24-6 win over Edison likely marked the end of his football career. The senior plans to play college basketball, and already has been accepted to Division III Albright College, but Virginia State and Virginia Union are still in the running.

"[Albright] is close to home, has a nice program and I know a lot of people up there," he said.

Before going their separate ways, both seniors plan to do what they can to help the younger players improve.

"I am going out there teaching the younger guys what I know," Green said.

With a win today and some help from Audenried, this year’s Bok team would be the first to make the playoffs since the 2000 season, when they won the Division E title, which no longer exists.

By next season, Brown is confident that the Wildcats will be even more prepared for the playoffs.

"By next year, I’d like to see Chris [Seaborn], James [Pope] and the twins [Allen and Kenny Major] step up big time," he said. SPR

Ineligible player costs Southern

Everything was going exactly as planned for the Southern boys’ basketball team. The Rams were leading the Division D race with an 11-1 record, making them serious Public League championship contenders.

Those playoff hopes vanished Monday afternoon when coach George Anderson discovered that forward Ray Alexander was actually a fifth-year senior, making him ineligible and converting those 11 wins into losses.

With report cards coming out Tuesday, Anderson was checking athletes’ grades. The coach said he checked the status of his players at the beginning of the season, but didn’t notice anything amiss.

"I neglected to look at the date of the roll sheet," he said. "I thought [Alexander’s] first year [at Southern] was his junior year."

The senior spent his first two years at Strawberry Mansion before transferring to Southern, where he was enrolled in an alternative program to help students catch up on credits.

The coach broke the disappointing news to his players after Tuesday’s 72-27 win over Prep Charter, which will stand in the team’s record. Some of the players, who had been envisioning a trip to the championship, broke down. "It was an emotional meeting," Anderson said. "I had to try and use it as a learning experience. That was an example of me not doing what I was supposed to do."

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