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High school basketball: South Jefferson coach Bassett back on sidelines

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ADAMS — After a week of uncertainty, Pat Bassett returned to practice as the South Jefferson girls basketball coach on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, he met with district officials in a closed-door meeting to discuss their concerns, which still have not been disclosed a week after the board mysteriously placed Bassett on administrative leave.

Tuesday’s session followed a nearly four-hour Board of Education meeting Monday night, filled with Bassett supporters, in which the board chose not to take action regarding Bassett’s status as coach.

“The district and I were able to reach a consensus and I was back in the gym this afternoon,” Bassett said in a text message Tuesday after practice. “The kids and I were excited to get back on the court and turn our attention back to basketball.”

South Jefferson Central School District Superintendent Jamie Moesel released a statement to the Times on Tuesday, which said: “The district and coach Bassett have reached a consensus in regards to the concerns, and coach Bassett returns to practice this afternoon.”

Both Moesel and Bassett declined to comment on what led to the week-long leave for the 14-year Spartans coach who has led the team to two state titles. A supporter of Bassett at Monday’s meeting said she heard accusations included ignoring player injuries, excessive use of blocking pads and throwing a ball that hit a player in the head, claims that have not been confirmed by the school or the coach. The board did tell a group of parents that whatever happened did not involve physical or sexual abuse.

South Jefferson senior Austin Stevens said that Bassett addressed the team before Tuesday’s practice.

“We did talk,” said Stevens, one of several players who vowed not to return to the team without coach Bassett. “Just kind of about, this isn’t going to be an easy process to get through but we need to work our way through it because it’s behind us now, and that’s basically it.”

She added: “It’s like an injury. It’s going to take time to heal, but it can be healed.”

South Jefferson postponed Thursday’s scheduled game against General Brown to Jan. 4 — its third postponement related to Bassett’s hiatus.

The Spartans, who are off to a 2-0 start, will next play on Monday in a Frontier League crossover game at Thousand Islands. South Jefferson hasn’t played since a 43-21 victory over Watertown on Dec. 6.

“As a guy that values preparation and practice time, this layoff was painful and we certainly lost some ground,” Bassett said. “However, there is plenty of season remaining and hopefully we can get back to a competitive level soon.”

Stevens, who scored 52 of South Jefferson’s 100 points in its first two games, said the team is relieved to put its focus back on the court.

“It was different (today) just because of everything that had gone on, but once we hit the floor, it’s Spartan basketball,” she said. “We just do what we do, so that was really good.”

The Spartans are riding a five-year winning streak against league opponents and have captured 12 straight league titles. In Bassett’s time at South Jefferson, the Spartans have won two state titles, played in five state final fours and captured eight Section 3 championships.

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