New York star plays different sports for different schools, costs team sectional title as a result

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Lance McDowell has had an incredible junior and senior year on the field and court. On Friday, the Yonkers (N.Y.) Biondi High power forward capped off an incredible run to back-to-back Class D Section I basketball titles, earning sectional MVP honors for the second straight year. McDowell has also turned heads on the football field, earning all-section honors there as well.

The 2010-11 Biondi County sectional champion boys basketball team — Flickr
The 2010-11 Biondi County sectional champion boys basketball team — Flickr

There was just one problem: When McDowell earned all-section honors on the gridiron, he was doing so for Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High, not Biondi. According to the, because he competed for different schools in different sports, the Biondi win was ruled a forfeit, retroactively wiping out the Lions' sectional title two days after their 69-59 victory against Greenburgh (N.Y.) Academy was keyed by McDowell's 26 points.

Despite the clear violation of having one athlete play at two different schools in the same season, Biondi coach Bob Della Bovi insisted that his school had done nothing wrong. Rather, because Biondi doesn't have its own football team, the school had filed paperwork to allow McDowell to compete for Mount Vernon in football only, which is technically the senior's home school; McDowell attends Biondi because of the school's special academic programs.

Biondi power forward Lance McDowell — Flickr
Biondi power forward Lance McDowell — Flickr

"We didn't do anything that we deemed as shady or illegal," Biondi coach Bob Delle Bovi told "You're talking about a high-profile kid. He was on the floor at the County Center last year and received the MVP award. Nobody knew about him?"

New York Section 1 officials said they regretted overlooking the violation, admitting that the organizational body had simply "missed" the fact that McDowell was competing for different teams in different sports, despite the fact that the senior was among the best players in both sports.

Puzzlingly, the body agreed to let Biondi's 2010-11 sectional title stand, despite the fact that McDowell had starred for that squad after playing the fall football season for Mount Vernon as well.

If you find the discrepancy in that ruling puzzling and how the state governing body could have missed one of its brightest stars in two sports competing for different schools equally baffling, don't worry, you're not alone.

[Related: Washington prep star's full-court shot can't fend off heartbreak]

"It's a state rule. They missed it -- our schools missed it -- and it's unfortunate," Simmons told "Obviously, [Biondi is] devastated."

How officials missed such a glaring violation, whether it should be a violation or not, is the kind of scenario that will likely remain puzzling for years ahead, even if that hardly makes it easier for Biondi fans or McDowell himself.

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