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Schwab: Mooseheart has month to gain eligibility

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 5:37 a.m. CDT

One month before the postseason begins for boys basketball teams in classes 1A and 2A, Mooseheart’s postseason fate remains unclear.

In December, the IHSA Board of Directors voted that South Sudanese transfers Akim Nyang, Makur Puou and Mangisto Deng would be eligible to continue playing with the Red Ramblers, but placed the program on probation, pending the completion of several requirements that include completing a compliance plan to more closely conform with IHSA recruiting bylaws.

Mooseheart’s attempt to meet the IHSA’s conditions remain in progress, Mooseheart interim executive director Gary Urwiler said Friday. Urwiler declined to provide specifics of where the school’s efforts stand, but last month, former executive director and new CEO of Mooseheart International Scott Hart said the school would do whatever necessary to restore the team’s eligibility for the postseason.

“We heard the board’s direction loud and clear,” Hart said last month. “We love being part of the IHSA, and we’ll do whatever it takes as adults to make sure our students have that opportunity in the postseason.”

Regionals for 1A and 2A teams are set to begin the week of Feb. 18.

If part of the postseason, the Ramblers are expected to be a potential force in the 1A draw, though Mooseheart coach Ron Ahrens said earlier this week that ultra-athletic starting guard Oumaru Abdulahi will miss the rest of the season with his lingering ankle injury.

“What he brought to the table for us was defense,” Ahrens said. “Offensively I think we’ll be fine, but defensively, that’s where we’ll hurt, because he can guard people one-on-one really well in [man-to-man].”

A track standout at Mooseheart, Abdulahi’s basketball career has been hampered by injuries each of the past two seasons.

On the bright side, the 6-foot-10 Puou continues to emerge as an interior menace. He scored a career-high 35 points to go with 17 rebounds and four blocked shots in Tuesday’s 68-41 win against Luther North.

Stephens commands invite: St. Charles East senior Kendall Stephens was one of 13 players in the state to be nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game on April 3 at the United Center.

Stephens, a Purdue recruit, was averaging about 19 points a game before his senior season ended after re-aggravating his labrum injury in a Dec. 27 game against Stevenson. He is expected to have surgery next week, which would make him unavailable to compete in the McDonald’s game even if he made the final roster, which is expected to be unveiled on Feb. 14.

Another Upstate Eight Conference player, Illinois-Chicago recruit Lance Whitaker of Bartlett, was also among Illinois’ nominees for the game.

Streator exploring options: Northern Illinois Big 12 West conference member Streator met this week with officials from both the Interstate Eight and Cornbelt conferences, according to The Senior Reports, a website that tracks conference movement.

The Senior Reports cites an email from Streator superintendent Kevin Myers that indicates Streator is awaiting responses from both conferences.

If Streator joins division-mate Dixon – which already has announced its departure, effective the 2014-15 school year – out the door, then the Northern Illinois Big 12 will have two holes to fill if it wishes to remains a two division, 12-team conference. Kaneland is part of the NI Big 12’s East Division.

Sweatt sent out: Former Kaneland student Bill Sweatt did not make the Vancouver Canucks’ opening day roster. Sweatt was among eight players the Canucks sent to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves ahead of Vancouver’s season opener today against the Anaheim Ducks.

Sweatt spent most of last year with the Wolves but played two games with the NHL’s Canucks. The 24-year-old winger lived in Elburn from kindergarten through his freshman year of high school at Kaneland.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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