Two Masters' Starters Benched Over Grades

Times Staff Writer

Rocky Shipes and J. T. Thompson, two starters on The Masters' College basketball team, have been ruled ineligible because they did not complete work in classes that ended Dec. 16, according to Coach Randy Stem.

Eligibility would be restored upon completion of the classes, which Stem said may be as soon as this week for Shipes. Thompson is not expected to complete his class work for two to three weeks. Shipes, a junior forward and the team's leading scorer with an average of 19.9 points a game, could be eligible for the Mustangs' next game Tuesday against Cal Baptist.

Neither Thompson, a sophomore guard averaging 6.9 points and 8.3 assists, nor Shipes, played in Masters' 91-88 nonconference overtime win Saturday at home against Olivet Nazarene.

"It's obviously going to hurt us scoring-wise," Stem said. "But I think it's brought the team closer together."

Stem said that Shipes needs to complete work in one class and Thompson was given three incomplete grades. Thompson fell behind in school in October when he suffered from respiratory problems that also caused him to miss four weeks of practice, according to Stem.

After receiving grades, the players had two weeks to complete the classes before being ruled ineligible. NCAA rules state that student-athletes must pass 24 units every two semesters or be declared ineligible until those units are completed.

Stem does not think that the losses will have much effect on his team, especially if Shipes is eligible for Tuesday's game.

"Ted Grissom has done a real good job in J. T. Thompson's place, and Kenny Smith is back and he ran the point spot today," Stem said. "Quickness is what we lose, but we have good players to fill in."

Grissom had 22 points and nine assists against Olivet Nazarene (8-5) and Smith, playing in his first game since suffering a broken leg, scored 12 points.

Phil Hahn, whose three-point shot with four seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime, scored with 2:24 remaining in the extra period to give the Mustangs a one-point lead they never relinquished. Hahn had 30 points.

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