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The Beach Channel boys basketball team will likely be forced to cancel its season because of the damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted on the still-shuttered building, as players are now scattered throughout the state and attending other schools, head coach Jim Malone told the TimesLedger.
“First time in 33 years I’m not coaching,” he said. “I’ve got no team.”
A number of factors led to Malone’s decision not to resume the season if and when the school reopens in Beach Channel, which borders Jamaica Bay and was heavily damaged during the storm. Two 1,500-gallon oil tanks spilled in the basement, according to the coach. Although the gym is structurally sound, it reeks of saltwater, Malone said.
Beach Channel High School is slated to reopen Jan. 2, according to a spokesman for the city’s Department of Education.
Malone was still in the process of finalizing the roster when the storm hit, and the Dolphins, who were expecting a rebuilding season in Queens AA, have not held practice since. The players, the majority of whom had played on the junior varsity team last year, are now attending other schools, including Franklin K. Lane in Brooklyn. Sophomore Demonie Morris transferred to John Bowne in Flushing and is now on the Wildcats roster.
Department of Education spokeswomen Margie Feinberg confirmed that if students in relocated schools try out and make the teams at the new schools, then they could play immediately. The students will not have to sit out a season.
Some Beach Channel basketball players didn’t try out at Lane, a Class A school, according to the team’s lone senior, Kampreme Irving. He had initially planned to go to Lane, but moved to Schenectady, to live with his sister Kashay Irving and is currently playing with Schenectady High School. He lost his Far Rockaway home during Sandy.
“Everyone went their separate ways,” Irving said. “Everyone was really devastated because Beach Channel is our home.”
Malone said he has had little contact with the players since the storm and even less since the middle of November. Because many players were moving up from the junior varsity team, he hadn’t established relationships yet with them. He was recently contacted by Public School Athletic League officials to check on the status of his club, and Malone told them he didn’t have one. Feinberg said she is looking into whether the PSAL still expects the Dolphins to put a team on the court and if it has been officially notified of the season cancellation.
“I’m sure they don’t anticipate us fielding a team after this,” Malone said.
The Dolphins, like most schools in the Rockaways, had their first seven league games postponed. They aren’t scheduled to begin league play until Jan. 3 against Van Buren. Malone said that even if the school reopens he has no plans to try to scrape together a team and cram 14 games into two months after not having held any practices or scrimmages. Some teams in Beach Channel’s league have already played three games.
Girls coach Sam Innes did not return a phone message left late Wednesday night.
Still, Malone said he doesn’t want basketball to end all together for those who return to Beach Channel.
“As soon as they get back in the building, I was anticipating, if nothing else, working out with them throughout the winter so they don’t lose complete basketball time,” Malone said. “There is no way we can play in a league now.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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