The Marin County Athletic League’s MVS — Most Valuable Statistician — was once again on top of her game Saturday night when the girls basketball team beat Vacaville to claim third place in the Rumble in the Jungle tournament at Bethel High in Vallejo.
The Hornets drove home with a 5-2 overall record in non-league play, an impressive mark when you consider some had expected their MVS at courtside to be their MVP at center court this season.
, an honorable mention all-leaguer last season at Drake High in San Anselmo, transferred to Novato for her senior year and had planned to join forces with a new Hornets coach, , and several young standouts upon which Knight hopes to build a successful hoops future.
But Cross hasn’t been allowed to play yet for the Hornets, even if nobody is willing definitively to say why.
“I was just told she couldn’t play,” Knight said.
Various Marin sources say Cross has been ruled ineligible by the North Coast Section. NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmon would not confirm the ineligibility, although he said he has been in contact with Novato’s principal and athletic director, one of whom presumably passed on the message to Knight.
Novato High Principal Rey Mayoral said his administrative team would follow all protocols and procedures in the matter.
"If we determine there was illegal and inappropriate recruiting, we will take a 'no tolerance' position," he said. "This student and her parents have due rights and will most likely appeal. Like in any case, there is a process in the MCAL and NCS bylaws that dictate how the process works."
The issue, according to those in-the-know, seems to revolve around Cross’ relationship with some of her new would-be teammates while playing last spring and summer for a Marin-based AAU team, Strictly Hoops, that was coached by College of Marin’s Tannea Nelson.
CIF rules prohibit transfers from one high school to another for sports purposes. One of the indicators when ruling on transfer eligibility in sports is the student’s relationship with her new school’s coach and teammates.
The Strictly Hoops program is run by Branson School coach Scott Davis. He saw Cross establish close relationships with girls on the AAU team, including some of the current Novato players.
“When I heard she was thinking of transferring to Novato, I told her mom (Cheryl) that there’s no way NCS would allow her to play,” Davis disclosed. “They went ahead and did it anyway.”
The Crosses would not make themselves available for comment, but sources say Cheryl and Darrian have either moved to Novato or established a residence there. Sources said they believed establishing residency in Novato would be enough to enable the senior star to play.
The Crosses are appealing the NCS decision to the CIF level. A decision is expected in early January.
Sources say Facebook postings on Cross’ wall from some of the Novato players were used by NCS as “evidence” to prove an illegal “influence of friends.”
Cross, a 5-foot-9 center, was one of the MCAL’s top scorers and rebounders last season, averaging 9.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Novato starts its MCAL schedule Jan. 3 at home against Tamalpais.