The most anxious moments Friday night for Valley College Coach Jim Stephens came before the Monarchs' 103-86 nonconference loss to Pasadena.
Stephens was concerned whether he would be able to field a team less than a half-hour before tip-off.
About 20 minutes before game time, starters Oral Elrington and Gerald Franklin appeared. That left only 2 players unaccounted for, including freshman Tory Stephens (no relation), the Monarchs' leading scorer with a 26-point average.
Three minutes before tip-off, Stephens wandered in, blaming a flat tire for his tardiness.
Unconvinced, the Valley coach benched his star guard for the first 6:12 of play. The other missing Monarch, backup center Andre Bouvay, never did arrive, leaving Valley (4-4) with 9 players.
"I've disciplined them as much as I can, but I can only take so much," said Jim Stephens, who reportedly was so angry at his club at halftime that he threatened to forfeit.
"We could have beat Pasadena. We've got the potential. But I can't get it into their heads what they need to do to win."
Friday, the Monarchs could have used a few more points from Tory Stephens, who scored only 9, converting just 4 of 19 shots (1 of 12 in the second half).
"Tory was emotionally out of it," Valley assistant Dana Pump said. "A flat tire? Yeah, and I've got some swampland in Florida I'd like to sell. You believe that?"
Pasadena (9-2), which turned the ball over 28 times, made 13 of its first 16 shots in the second half and shot 66% for the game.
Valley was led by Franklin, who had 22 points and 7 rebounds. Joey Manliguis added 18 points and 7 steals, and Elrington had 16 points and 10 rebounds.