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Vandy girls out of 4A playoffs

The Vandebilt Catholic High School girls basketball team is officially out of the state playoffs. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)

HAMMOND -- The Vandebilt Catholic High School girls basketball team is officially out of the state playoffs.

The action comes after three days of legal maneuvering by Houma attorney Jay Luke on behalf of a Lady Terriers player who was ruled ineligible by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.

Director Kenny Henderson ruled Wednesday that Vandebilt sophomore Jewel Triggs failed to meet the association’s transfer policy when she switched from a school in Thibodaux to the Houma school.

Luke, on behalf of Triggs and her parents, asked a judge for a temporary restraining order to keep the Lady Terriers in the Class 4A playoffs. State District Judge George Larke of Houma granted the order on Thursday.

The athletic association appealed to Larke this morning, who kept his original order intact. That would have allowed Vandebilt to compete against St. Michael High of Baton Rouge in this evening’s playoff game in Hammond.

However, the association took its case to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Baton Rouge just before game time. The court ruled in the association’s favor, saying the Houma court had no jurisdiction over the group’s decision.

As a result, Salmen High of Slidell was allowed back into the playoffs and was competing this evening against St. Michael.

Vandebilt took the court at 3:55 p.m. on Friday for its game against St. Michael, but three minutes later left the floor after LHSAA officials spoke with Lady Terriers coach Kathy Luke, wife of Jay Luke.

Both Vandebilt and Salmen traveled to Hammond this morning amid the uncertainty.  

The restraining order was sought by the player’s parents, Charity and Garland Triggs. They asked Larke to put the association’s decision on hold until a hearing could be held within 10 days to determine their daughter’s eligibility.

Coach Luke led her team through a practice Thursday afternoon. She declined comment on the situation and refused requests to interview her players. Vandebilt President David Keife was unavailable for comment.

Jewel Triggs, who has attended Vandebilt since eighth grade and is originally from Thibodaux, participated in Vandebilt’s practice Thursday.

Questions surrounding whether Triggs lived in Thibodaux with her father while attending Vandebilt led to the LHSAA’s investigation, said Jay Luke. If Triggs, who attended St. Joseph Elementary in Thibodaux as a seventh-grader, was living in that city with her father, she would have been ineligible to play sports at Vandebilt without sitting out a season because of transfer rules.

But their attorney contends Triggs was living in Houma with her mother the entire time she attended Vandebilt, which made her eligible to play sports.

A statement sent to the Daily Comet and The Courier Thursday by the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux states that Vandebilt administrators discovered a violation involving a student athlete and asked the athletic association to investigate.

--Staff Writer Kelly McElroy contributed to this story.