RALEIGH — Enloe girls basketball coach Pina Baker didn't know how her team was going to react to the news.
Although the Eagles were second in their conference standings on Wednesday, before their afternoon practice, Baker was about to tell her players that their season had changed drastically.
Baker informed them that the Eagles had forfeited eight wins, including six against Cap Eight 4-A Conference foes, because she didn't notice that one of her players had become ineligible due to a physical form that expired in late December.
"I have no words to explain that process," Baker said of telling her team. "If it had been something that just impacted me it wouldn't have been difficult."
Instead, the Eagles (now 5-16, 3-8 Cap Eight) have become a team that will struggle to reach the playoffs.
Baker noticed the expired physical form while going through some documents on Wednesday in preparation for the rest of the regular season that ends after next week. Once Baker double-checked and confirmed the mistake, she told Tommy Moore, Enloe's athletic director.
"We did a little checking and saw we had played eight games [with the ineligible player]," Moore said. "It's not an easy situation. We made a mistake, and we have to tell the truth."
Baker said during her speech to the team that she let the ineligible player, which the school asked to remain anonymous, know the error was Baker's fault.
"This is 100 percent the coach's mistake," Baker said. "This is my doing. I'm literally mad at myself, but I just missed it."
Baker and Moore notified the NCHSAA about the situation and agreed to forfeit the games. The NCHSAA requires student-athletes to have annual physicals. The player is now eligible.
Moore said the players were disappointed and surprised by the news.
"I'm sure there were some tears shed," Moore said. "But we'll move forward."
Despite the situation, Baker said she was proud of how her team has responded so far by having two good practices. The Eagles, though, don't have a lot of time to dwell on their predicament, as they travel to play Wakefield tonight.
"I've got some quality kids who know they still have an opportunity to do something special," Baker said. "They assured me they wouldn't let this pull them down."
Even so, the odds are against the Eagles.
Now sixth in the conference standings, the Eagles will more than likely need to win the Cap Eight tournament to reach the playoffs. If Broughton, which currently holds the fifth and final playoff spot in the conference, wins one of its final three games, the Eagles will be forced to win the tournament.
But Baker said even if the Eagles don't reach the playoffs, her team will know its coach did the right thing in reporting the mistake.
"I told them this is a heavy price," Baker said, "but that's what you have to do in life."
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