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West Seneca West star basketball player takes eligibility fight to Supreme court

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) - - A star on the basketball court is fighting in a court of law to stay eligible to play.

Juston Johnson will not be playing for West Seneca High School Friday.

Johnson has wanted to play basketball his entire life.  He says, "Once I picked up a basketball I realized that this is what I wanted to do my whole life, and I wanted to go to school for it."

He's considered one of the top players in Western New York, and was runner up for "Player Of The Year" last year. "He's the guy that every kid likes even players from other schools," said his older brother and Varsity Head Coach Desmond Randall." 

But he won't be taking the court for the Indians this Friday.  

Johnson said, "Ever since i was young I've been working hard for these goals and now i'm up here, and the people at the top that should be happy for me, are trying to bring me down."

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association grants athletes six years of playing eligibility. 

Decision makers at Section 6 have ruled Johnson ineligible for the 2018-2019 season claiming he's used up all of his eligible years. 

Johnson said, "I'm fighting for my future basically. It's sad to see these people are trying to take my future away from me."

A football injury at 12 years old took him out of the game for a full year. "I knew right away, that it was broken and how bad it hurt," he said. 

His dad, Demaris Johnson says during that time, he and is wife decided to homeschool Juston, focusing on healing. But because of that year, Section 6 ruled his eligibility window has closed.

Now, the Johnson family is going through a serious of appeals. Demaris Johnson said, "There's the sectional appeal committee, then there's the State NYHSAA Appeals Committee, and then there's the commissioners office that you have to appeal to."

Now Johnson  has filed an article 78 petition with the Supreme Court in Erie County. 

He says the decision was the result of a violation of the regulations governing extended eligibility. 

The suit also says by not allowing him to play, the decision makers are hurting his chances of being recruited. "For him not to have the opportunity to be able to go out there and perform for these colleges is devastating to him," said Demaris Johnson. 

Justin Johnson said, "I knew from the start that I wanted to play basketball in college so my dream was to go to school for college and get a scholarship and that is still my dream today."

Tim Sladde from S​ection 6 told us he couldn't comment on the case but acknowledged there is a pending litigation and his department is involved in an appeal to the commissioner. 

 


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