The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association's message was heard loud and clear.
After the league advised its players to not play in Saturday's Battle for the City, which had billed as a game between the best of the Public Schools Athletic League and the CHSAA, only five Catholic league players showed up for the event. At least 20 CHSAA players had been slated early in the week to play in the game.
Instead of a strictly CHSAA team, a team constructed of CHSAA and PSAL players was thrown together, and that team fell to the PSAL All-Stars, 110-91, on Saturday at Baruch College.
THE HISTORY: The CHSAA advised its players not to play for fear of the game being unsanctioned as well as rule that says underclassmen cannot play in All-Star games unless there is a tryout. The five players who showed up were all seniors.
Event organizer, Funsport Inc. CEO Rickey Rivers, said that he talked to the NCAA about the contest and was told it did not need to be sanctioned since there would be no college coaches attending. He also said there were no problems with seniors playing in the game since they're allowed two All-Star Games.
The CEO, who at one point asked if CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens President Ray Nash was there, also disputed that an underclassmen's eligibility would be in danger if they played.
"I called the NCAA compliance office when I put together this event and went though all the things, had my checklist in order, I knew exactly what was needed to pull of this event because I've done these things several times," Rivers said. "The things they used against me were not valid points, and that was the point I think I was a little disturbed about."
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The PSAL team jumped out to an early edge, leading 56-42 at halftime, and cruised to a win.
Pathways Preps junior center Jordan Washington earned MVP honors for his 22-point effort while Boys & Girls forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd had 16. Satellite Academy senior guard Stanley Cepedes led the CHSAA/PSAL team with 21 points.
"It was a lot of fun," Washington said. "There were some top players in the country and I knew I had to come out here and play ball."
ONLY FIVE FROM THE CHSAA: The five players were the CHSAA were Xaverian guard Brian Bernardi, Mount St. Michael guard Malik Gill, and St. Raymond's trio of guard Myron Hickman, and forwards Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro.
Hickman, a late addition, didn't agree with the CHSAA.
"Basically I felt like what they were doing was kind of wrong, telling some of the top kids in the CHSAA they can't play," Hickman said. "I wanted to help out Rickey and I've known him for a long time and that kind of played a factor as well, and I didn't want his event to turn out not to be a good one so I came."
THE OTHER GAMES AND EVENTS: The Blue team defeated the White team, 82-56, in the "Future Game" featuring top freshman and sophomores. Boys & Girls freshman Jamie Killings scored a game-high 30 points in a win.
Okoro won the 3-point shooting contest while Fludd took home the slam dunk crown.
MOVING FORWARD: Rivers envisions this event continuing and said he would make some tweaks if he were to do it differently, including not using the league names.
"I'm very happy for how it turned out. I expected there would be a little bit of turbulence despite everything that was said and going on around it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, it was a fun event and what I expected it to be. Fun for the kids and celebrating New York City basketball, some of the best kids on display, that's what you want to see."