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Bellwood-Antis wins its appeal with PIAA

Bellwood-Antis won its appeal to the PIAA on Monday that contested the school’s girls basketball team being moved from Class 2A to Class 3A due to the competitive-balance rule.

Teams who have accumulated six success points based off the past two seasons (2018-2019, 2019-2020) and have at least one transfer fall under the competitive-balance rule in basketball.

Last Tuesday, the Lady Blue Devils were among 15 teams listed by the PIAA tabbed to move up in classification due to the rule. Another local team, the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys program, will move up from Class 2A to Class 3A because of the rule.

Bellwood-Antis did have six success points after winning the Class 2A PIAA championship in 2019 and making the PIAA quarterfinals this season before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the school contested it had no transfers in that time period.

Bellwood officials sent in an appeal immediately, and it was approved Monday.

“The student was verified to be enrolled at Bellwood-Antis by your enrollment and transcript documents submitted,” said PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi in a statement sent to Bellwood-Antis athletic director Charlie Burch. “We are accepting of these source documents and approve your appeal. Therefore, Bellwood-Antis will remain in the Class 2A classification for girls basketball.”

When contacted last week, Burch was very confident the ruling would be overturned after appeal.

“We’re very pleased that we’re staying in 2A,” Burch said. “We were a little bit confused as to how this all occurred, but when we saw what the issue was, we felt that the PIAA would act on it in the proper way, and they did. So, we’re happy about it.”

With Monday’s ruling, the Lady Blue Devils, who have won the past two Class 2A PIAA championships that have been completed, are now locked in to playing at Class 2A next season, though their coach wasn’t sure which classification, 2A or 3A, would actually be tougher.

“It sounded like a clerical issue right from the start, and I’m just glad the PIAA realized that,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said. “She was a kid that has been in our school district since she was in kindergarten for heaven’s sake. I’m glad it all worked out, and I’m glad we’re staying Double-A, I think. I don’t know if things are any easier Double-A or Triple-A, but I’m happy it worked out the right way.”

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