San Fernando basketball Coach Dick Crowell is not the sort of guy to kiss and tell but, apparently, a member of his team is.
With his charges leading by 17 points late in Friday's Northwest Valley League game and the teams lining up for a Granada Hills free throw, Crowell sent in a directive to KISS; an endearing acronym that told his players, who have a tendency to free-lance, to Keep It Simple, Stupid.
"KISS it," repeated one of his players to his teammates lining up around the lane.
"Technical foul," responded the referee, who believed the remark was directed at him. The technical was hung on guard Joe Mauldin, who Saturday said it was another teammate who actually uttered the phrase.
"I was wondering what was happening," Mauldin said. "I didn't even say it. Someone else on the team said it. I don't even know who it was."
When Crowell tried to protest, he was also hit with a technical. Granada Hills converted on all four free throws, but San Fernando still won, 71-60.
While he failed to see the humor at the time, Crowell managed a chuckle later.
"Now it's kind of funny," he said. "It makes you think about changing it, doesn't it? What are you going to do?
"After coaching a long time you realize you don't have control over 16-year-olds or officials."
Royal delay: Royal's delay tactics against Simi Valley on Friday weren't popular among fans wanting to be entertained by a lot of scoring, but Highlanders Coach Joe Malkinson is trying to win games, not popularity contests.
In its 62-37 loss, Royal (8-6, 1-2) frittered away two or three minutes per offensive sequence in an effort to slow Simi Valley's scoring.
"We just had to make sure they didn't run away with it," Malkinson said. "What was it, 22, 25 points? I'll take it."
The Highlanders succeeded in holding Simi Valley (12-3, 3-0) to its lowest point total of the season, nearly 30 points below its season average. The Pioneers have scored at least 90 points eight times this season and scored more than 100 in each of their first two Marmonte League games.
You'd better believe Simi Valley was frustrated.
"I think all of us were at first," Simi Valley Coach Bob Hawking said. "In these kind of games, the underdog rarely wins. It's a philosophy of holding the ball and not attacking the basket."
Royal never led but was within three points, 33-30, with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. The Highlanders then missed six consecutive shots and Simi Valley finished the game with a 29-7 run.
Royal also committed 20 turnovers, three in a row to start the fourth quarter. The Pioneers turned the ball over eight times.
Simi Valley made 63% (22 of 35) of its field-goal attempts, including 9 of 10 in the fourth quarter.
Sylmar slowed: Sylmar was also a victim of a slow-down tactic, but the Spartans didn't shoot themselves out of it. They let Verdugo Hills fumble it away.
Sylmar (5-2, 1-0 in the East Valley League) shot just 25% (10 of 40) from the field but still was able to defeat slow-moving Verdugo Hills (2-7, 0-1), 34-19.
"Them slowing it down hurt us a lot," Sylmar Coach Billy Reed said. "It really threw our game off. If we could have capitalized on a few more trips down the court, we could have blown them out."
Instead, Sylmar extended its defense to a half-court trap, at the recommendation of assistant coach Reggie Reed, who is Billy's brother.
"We're not an exceptionally quick team," Reggie Reed said. "We had to force turnovers, and that threw them off. They had more turnovers than we had steals."
Three Spartans--Abe Gonzalez, Andre Robinson and Shawn Rucker--each had three steals.
Keeping the faith: Few people took first-year Coach Dean Lobdell seriously when he said his Faith Baptist team would challenge Crossroads for the Delphic League championship.
Yeah, and the Los Angeles Clippers will challenge for the NBA title.
But well into the season, Lobdell looks more like a prophet than a braggart. The Contenders started 8-1 and are getting ready for a Jan. 22 meeting with Crossroads, which has won six consecutive Southern Section and league titles.
"I think we have a good chance against Crossroads," Lobdell said. "We have a good enough team to make a run."
Faith Baptist lost only one starter from last season's 8-11 team. This season, however, the Contenders have been playing defense with more intensity.
"When it gets down to crunch time, we just shut them down," Lobdell said. "Last year, we didn't play good defense. This year, we stress it a lot."
Center Jason Henderson has been Faith Baptist's best cruncher. A 6-8 junior, Henderson is averaging 19 points, 16 rebounds and 6.4 blocked shots a game. Against Cathedral in the semifinals of the Village Christian tournament, Henderson leaped from the middle of the key and blocked a three-point attempt.
And although that doesn't happen every game, Lobdell said the swat exemplifies Faith Baptist's tenacity.
"I'm not surprised at how well we are doing," Lobdell said.
And he's a company of one.