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Valencia coach voices concern

Hayes questions tactics employed by other teams against a star player

Posted: January 18, 2010 9:44 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2010 4:55 a.m.
In the fourth quarter of Friday’s Valencia-West Ranch boys basketball game, Vikings guard Lonnie Jackson drove inside and took to the air, his eyes on the basket, his arm skyward, his body exposed.

Jackson came down after taking a forearm to the ribcage, one of his coaches said.

Now that coach is questioning the tactics used by other teams in the Foothill League on the star player.

“I’m concerned for his safety,” said Valencia assistant coach Greg Hayes.

Hayes added that the play “crossed the line” and Jackson also took some borderline flagrant fouls against Hart last Tuesday.

Hart was whistled early for an intentional foul on Jackson last Tuesday.

A message left to West Ranch head coach Sean Legaux was not returned on Monday.

“Flagrant by definition is are you making a play on the ball,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “Our play on Lonnie, we did make a play on the ball. Was it intentional? It was the right call, but we didn’t mean for it to be intentional. We didn’t go in with the intention of hurting him.”

Kelly said in 10 years as Hart head coach, he has never told his players to harm another player.

But there is an unwritten rule in basketball — no layups.

And with guarding Jackson and great players like him, there’s a double-edge sword, explained Canyon head coach Chad Phillips.

“Every coach is going to say, ‘I’m not going to let Lonnie have easy looks,’” Phillips said. “We’re going to pray we don’t give him any intentional fouls. We would never undercut him, never horsecollar foul. But we’re not going to give him easy looks.”

Phillips added: “Ultimately, it’s the coaches responsibility to inform and educate their players on what an appropriate foul is.”

In the first two Foothill League games, Jackson has been taken out of games early by head coach Rocket Collins for fear of injury — not the turning of an ankle or twisting of a knee, normal basketball injuries, but the fear that Jackson might take a hard foul that would cause an injury.

Hayes isn’t demanding the star treatment for a player destined to become an NCAA Division I college basketball player.

He also isn’t calling out any coaches.

In fact, Hayes understands that hard fouls are part of the game.

He just feels there is a disconnect between the coaches and the players.

“I don’t think any coach is doing it. We just have to be careful how the kids are interpreting it on the court,” Hayes said.

That same disconnect happened years ago when Hayes was the head coach for the Canyon boys basketball team.

One of his own players fouled a kid hard, breaking his ankle.

It’s not a good memory for the coach and he’d hate to see it happen again.

It isn’t just Valencia games where the play has been contentious.

In Tuesday’s league opener between Canyon and Golden Valley, two players wrestled for a loose ball before the Golden Valley player was flung to the floor. That player then got up and charged the other player. The Golden Valley player was then whistled for a technical foul.

A Canyon player was whistled later for a technical foul after taunting.

In Friday’s Hart-Canyon game, there were some hard fouls early and a near-tussle as players battled for a loose ball.

In both of those games, things settled down late.

Even Jackson was frustrated with the play against West Ranch and made an aggressive motion toward the player.

Yet the concern remains for the rest of the season, especially for Jackson in Valencia’s case, as Hayes said he has been a constant target for other teams.

Hayes said his reaction is not just to what he saw in the game.

He reviewed the tape and it reassured his initial thoughts.

“His dad expressed a viewpoint, ‘If you can’t stop him, you hurt him?’” Hayes said. “I’d hate to see that we are that insecure basketballwise in the Santa Clarita Valley.”


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