TAMPA – Gaither boys soccer coach Eric Sims announced his team has been granted berth into the 4A regional final after Lakeland George Jenkins was forced to forfeit its game because of an ineligible player.

The Eagles used the player in their 3-1 victory over Freedom and a Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) investigation ruled he was not allowed to play.

The Cowboys will automatically advance to next Tuesday’s region final facing the winner of tonight’s Winter Springs-Kissimmee Osceola match.

Strawberry Crest, Freedom hit hard with FHSAA penalties

Days before the start of the Class 7A-District 9 boys basketball tourament, the FHSAA says both Freedom and Strawberry Crest will be handed down suspensions, fines and possibly more according to spokesperson Corey Sobers.

According to reports filed to the FHSAA by the two schools’ administrators, game referees and Hillsborough County athletics director Lanness Robinson, the game was played Jan. 27 at Strawberry Crest and the incident occurred late in the third quarter. As a Freedom and Strawberry Crest player were contesting a rebound, the ball went out of bounds, the report says, and one player tackled the other. That resulted in punches being thrown, players from both teams leaving the bench and even some fans coming out of the stands and on to the floor. Video tape review of the incident revealed a player from each squad threw a punch and three players from each school left the bench.

As a result, one player received a “Level 2” suspension (six weeks) for throwing a punch, which is effectively for the remainder of the season. Three other players were given Level 1 suspensions, or two games.

Freedom has been fined $250 for having two Level 2 or higher suspensions during the current school year (the other came in football) and $100 for its fourth suspension in boys basketball. Additionally, Freedom’s boys basketball program is placed on administrative probation for the remainder of the current school year, as well as the 2012-13 school year.

Strawberry Crest was fined $250 for having two Level 2 or higher suspensions during the current school year and $100 for its fourth suspension in boys basketball. The program was also placed on administrative probation for remainder of 2011-12 school year and 2012-13 school year.

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