St. Michael loses appeal, Class 4A semifinal may be in limbo

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson
Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson

Salmen High School was back in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s girls basketball playoffs for most of the day Thursday and withstood an appeal by St. Michael the Archangel.

However, the parents of the player ruled ineligible for Houma’s Vandebilt Catholic obtained a restraining order in state district court, which put Vandebilt back in the playoffs.

LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said via text message at 6:30 p.m. that, “Vandy is back in and Salmen is out.”

“There will be an appeal of the (restraining order) (Friday),” Henderson said. “I believe it will be in Houma. We weren’t given a chance to speak at (Thursday’s) hearing. Both teams will be given a practice time tomorrow. We do expect this to be resolved (Friday).”

As of now, that means second-seeded St. Michael is scheduled to play third-seeded Vandebilt at 4:30 p.m. Friday in The Advocate/Southeast Regional Tournament at SLU’s University Center in Hammond.

Thursday started with a teleconference that led to the LHSAA’s executive committee upholding Henderson’s Wednesday ruling to remove Vandebilt (28-5) from the playoffs. The committee also denied St. Michael’s appeal to stop Salmen from being its Friday semifinal foe at SLU’s University Center.

An investigation confirmed Vandebilt had used an ineligible player based on the LHSAA’s transfer rules in numerous games, including Monday’s quarterfinal win over No. 6 Salmen.

Vandebilt self-reported the violation and did not appeal Henderson’s ruling. But The (Houma) Courier reported Thursday morning that the parents of the player ruled ineligible filed a lawsuit in state District Court on Thursday to block Henderson’s ruling.

Officials at Vandebilt did not comment on the ruling, but issued a statement to The Daily Comet and Courier stating they would review what happened in order to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Charity and Garland Triggs, parents of the player ruled ineligible, were granted a restraining order late Thursday afternoon, according to The Courier.

Patrick Luke, husband of VCHS coach Kathy Luke and an assistant district attorney in Houma, represented the Triggs family.

St. Michael’s appeal of the decision to place Salmen (27-4) on the bracket was based on the fact that the decision was made just less than 48 hours before the game, something the school said was in violation of the LHSAA’s 48-hour rule on such playoff moves.

“It was a tough situation, because first I had to hear from (LHSAA investigator) Joe Kleinpeter and then I had to make other calls,” Henderson said Thursday. “The ruling came out at around 4:42 p.m., I believe. I called St. Michael 53 minutes after 4:30 p.m., and I was on the phone the whole time in between.

“We did talk about possibly moving the game to a later time on Friday. Ultimately, I don’t think the board believed the time frame made much difference.”

Salmen, the 4A runner-up a year ago, was elated by the initial decision.

St. Michael coach Tami Reynolds-McClure stood by her team’s decision to appeal the ruling, but was unsure which team would play her Warriors.

“I’m preparing for two teams,” Reynolds-McClure said. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen.

“This is ridiculous,” Reynolds-McClure added. “We’re preparing for two teams and don’t know who we’ll play. Meanwhile, Salmen and Vandebilt only have to prepare for us. This is so unfair for the kids. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Salmen coach Kevin Anderson said he was unaware of the ruling.

“I guess we’d better get ourselves a lawyer, too,” Anderson said. “This isn’t over.”