Court ruling puts Dunbar back in tourney

DAYTON – A major victory came Tuesday for the Dunbar boys basketball team in court, instead of on court.

A judge ruled the team can play in the state tournament after the district sued the Ohio High School Athletic Association for keeping them out.

Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli says it’s the outcome they were hoping for when they initially filed an injunction against the OHSAA.

“We’re very happy,” Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said. “About the decision that was rendered.”

At the heart of the issue was a bench-clearing brawl between Thurgood Marshall and Dunbar basketball players.

As a result of the fight, the OHSAA suspended a Dunbar player for two games because he left the bench, but he never served the suspension, leading the organization to ban the team from the playoffs.

DPS argued the player in question never left the bench.

According a nine-page ruling, the judges states, “Upon a thorough review of the video from the January 10, 2018 brawl, the Court counts five players on the court, and at most, seven on the Dunbar bench at the time the fight broke out.”

A coach testified the 13th player or the player in question wasn’t on the bench because he was in the locker room, not involved in the fight.

“I’m extremely happy that they took the case immediately,” Lolli said. “And that they were able to render a decision so our students wouldn’t be hurt. We have seniors–both at Thurgood and at Dunbar–who were expecting to play.”

The district also argued that because the player in question was on J-V and not varsity, the varsity team shouldn’t be penalized. The judge agreed.

“I’m grateful that we were able to pull together the information for everyone to prove that Dunbar was not playing an ineligible player,” Lolli said. “We did handle the discipline appropriately for the J-V students that actually threw punches and we’ll continue to work on this issue and other situations that we face.”

The OHSAA can appeal the judge’s decision. The district tells me they don’t anticipate that happening.

The Dunbar boys basketball team will play Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. at the University of Dayton Arena.

By Jordan Bowen