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.
Time to shine: The hard knocks keep coming his way, but North Hollywood's leading scorer, Dominic Nappi, keeps bouncing back. The 6-7 senior, who already has sprained each ankle, reported to school after the holidays with a huge shiner around his right eye.
Nappi said he was knocked dizzy by a wayward elbow during a playground game Sunday, prompting North Hollywood Coach Steve Miller to invoke a new team rule--no more playground games.
"I wasn't mad when I first saw him but I was disappointed," Miller said. "He could have been hurt and lost for the season. Instead he comes back looking like he was in Rocky 9."
Beat the clock: Some players would walk a mile to crack a coach's starting lineup. At Chatsworth, they have to run one--in six minutes or less.
"It's part of our program," Coach Gary Shair said. "We just have a thing where everybody has to run the mile in under six minutes--anybody who has any thoughts about starting, anyway."
Shair clocks the Chancellors at the beginning of the season. Players who pass can play and don't have to run the mile again. Players who fail . . .
"They just keep doing it until they can do it--or until they get sick of it," Shair said. "If a kid wants to play bad enough, he'll do it."
Shair needed a replacement this week for injured forward Erik Merkel. Candidates Lance Smith and Bryan Addison, both previously slower than six-minute milers, met Shair at the track.
"I said 'Guys, I need some size on the boards, so we gotta run the mile,' " Shair said. "They both did make it this time."
Guard Rick Garrick, who averages 14 points a game to lead the team, also leads the Chancellors on the track, with a time of 5:30. Shair said that there are a couple of players who still cannot break the six-minute mark.
"They just won't have an opportunity to play," Shair said. "To me, it's a mind thing. It's 'How tough are you?"'
Mixing sections: Notre Dame and North Hollywood officials are very close to scheduling a football game between the schools next season, according to North Hollywood Coach Fred Grimes.
"We're about 90% sure," Grimes said. "Their athletic director spoke to our athletic director and both coaches agree, but there's no real confirmation yet."
Grimes said the game would be scheduled for Sept. 23 at a site yet to be determined. The nonleague game would be North Hollywood's first of the season, Notre Dame's third. The Huskies are in the Pac 8 League and Notre Dame will move from the Del Rey League to the new San Fernando Valley League.
"It would be a natural rivalry," Grimes said. "We're only a couple blocks apart."
Grimes believes that City Section programs can learn from playing against Southern Section schools.
"I don't think there's any question that the CIF schools run better programs," he said. "Maybe the City will recognize that if we played more often."
Added incentive: When Monroe travels to Poly on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the City Section soccer playoffs, the match should take on an extra dimension.
Monroe Coach Les Sasvary, who has guided the Vikings to the Mid-Valley League title for the first time since he started the program in 1977, says his team will be out for revenge against the team that eliminated it from the playoffs last year.
"We got a score to settle," Sasvary said. "They knocked us out of the playoffs in the first round last year and this year we had a practice game scheduled with them that they cancelled."
Other quarterfinal pairings for Tuesday: Chatsworth visits Belmont and Reseda visits Garfield. All games begin at 2:30 p.m.
Staff writers Steven Fleischman, John Lynch, Vince Kowalick and Chris J. Parker contributed to this notebook.