A year ago, Carlton Hyder's Southern Section basketball career appeared over. Hyder, a standout 6-foot-2 junior guard at Victor Valley, was suspended for his involvement in a brawl with game officials after a Victor Valley loss in a tournament game in December of 1989.
As a result of the fight, Hyder and teammates Thomas Wilkins and Michael Butler were barred from playing until a Feb. 8 hearing before the Southern Section Executive Committee. Wilkins and Butler were banned from the CIF, and Hyder was suspended indefinitely.
The suspension of Hyder, who was considered one of the best junior prospects in the San Bernardino area last season, was overshadowed by the controversial resignation last June of Victor Valley's Ollie Butler, who was forced out after 33 years of coaching.
The only hope Hyder had was for the Southern Section to reinstate him for his senior season, which it did last December, one year after the brawl.
Since his return, Hyder has averaged 16 points and six rebounds for Victor Valley, which is 2-4 in the San Andreas League and 9-10 overall after an 83-60 loss to league rival and top-ranked San Bernardino Friday night.
"It feels good to be back playing this season," Hyder said. "It was a long time off."
Victor Valley Coach Kurt Herbst, who replaced Butler, praised Hyder for his efforts since returning.
"I know it was hard for him when he couldn't play," said Herbst, an assistant coach at West Covina last season. "But he has returned and played real hard for us. He's had some real good games this season."
Even though he is happy to be on the court again, Hyder has been frustrated. Not only has he had to get back into playing shape after a year off, but he has had to make the adjustment of playing under a new coach.
"I wasn't expecting this season to go this way," he said. "It has definitely not gone for the better. I don't think that I'm playing as good as I could.
"Having a new coach has taken some getting used to because I used to be more of the go-to guy. Now, things are more spread around."
Said Herbst: "It took a while for Hyder to get adjusted because he couldn't really practice. I know that he thinks that he could be playing better than he has. But I'm real happy with him."
For nearly 14 months, the Victor Valley basketball program has taken its knocks. It has not been an easy transition from Butler, who won 605 games and still teaches at the school, to Herbst.
"The team morale is not very high," Hyder said after Victor Valley's loss to San Bernardino. "There is still friction from what has happened. I still talk to Butler a lot and he's behind Herbst. But it just takes time for a new coach to implement his system."
Despite Victor Valley's record in his first season, Herbst is pleased to be coaching the Jackrabbits.
"The support I've received from the administration and Ollie Butler has been great," Herbst said. "Sure, there is a little more pressure to come in like I did, but it has been a positive experience for me. I plan to be here for a while."
By a narrow margin, the Southern Section general council voted last week to continue the league realignment process for the 1992-94 cycle.
The process, which takes place every two years, allows for the restructuring of the section's 66 leagues. However, a proposal was made two weeks ago to postpone the cycle for one year. The general council rejected that proposal by a 35-29 vote.
The realignment committee began hearing league proposals Monday, according to Commissioner Stan Thomas.
San Pedro Coach Henry Pacheco was fired last week and replaced by assistant Mike Walsh, the latest in a busy off-season of football coaching changes.
In 10 years at San Pedro, Pacheco won two league titles and guided the Pilots to seven playoff appearances. San Pedro was 4-6 this past season and did not qualify for the playoffs.
San Gorgonio Coach Karl Gaytan, who led the Spartans to the Southern Section Division I title game against Fontana in 1989, recently resigned to become the director of parks and recreation for the City of Colton.
North Hollywood assistant James Lippitt has replaced Fred Grimes, who resigned after five years at the school. Riverside Poly Coach Jim McNamara also recently stepped down after four years with the Bears.
Tim DeGroote, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound, offensive lineman from Newhall Hart, made an unwritten commitment to Oregon Monday, choosing the Ducks over Colorado State and Washington State. Dorsey wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson committed to Cal. . . . Fremont remained The Times' top-ranked City boys' team after improving its record to 23-1 after easy nonconference victories last week over Van Nuys and Sepulveda Monroe. Perennial power Crenshaw, however, dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 after being upset by Washington, 102-96, last Friday night. Barnabas James scored 37 points and James Burton added 24 for Washington, which improved to 17-2 and moved up a notch in the polls from No. 3. Fairfax dropped two places to No. 7 after losses to Manual Arts and Westchester.
San Bernardino, top ranked in the Southern Section, remains the only undefeated boys' team in the Southland. The Cardinals easily passed their toughest league test of the season last Tuesday, defeating Cajon, 51-37.