Can a high school basketball team lose six games in four days? In the opinion of the organizers of the Simi Valley tournament, Canoga Park High did precisely that last week.
Canoga Park's withdrawal from the tournament after one loss left parties on both sides pointing fingers in an effort to explain why the Hunters failed to fulfill their four-game tournament contract.
After Canoga Park failed to show up for three games, tournament officials declared the games forfeits. Coupled with the first-round tournament loss and two defeats in Valley Pac-8 Conference play, it made for a dismal week for the Hunters (1-3, excluding potential forfeits; 1-2 in conference play).
Canoga Park lost to Royal, 59-52, in the tournament opener Monday. Canoga Park then failed to appear for its consolation-bracket game the following day against Keppel, angering tournament organizers.
Canoga Park also failed to show up for consolation games against Campbell Hall on Wednesday and Palmdale on Thursday. The team from Keppel, located in Alhambra, drove to Simi Valley only to find that the Hunters had failed to show up.
"We were embarrassed," said a tournament official who declined to be identified.
However, Canoga Park Coach Jeff Davis said that tournament organizers must shoulder much of the blame. According to Davis, he informed tournament officials three months ago that should the Hunters lose their opener with Royal, they would be unable to play the following day because Canoga Park already had been scheduled to play a Valley Pac-8 Conference game against Sherman Oaks CES. City Section rules prohibit teams from playing more than one game in a day.
Davis believed that it was understood that tournament officials would find a suitable substitute for Canoga Park in the event of a first-round loss.
Tournament officials, on the other hand, said Davis led them to believe that the conference games would be rescheduled and that Davis would have no problem honoring the four-game contract.
Officials said that after Canoga Park lost to Royal, Davis failed to say anything about his plan to forgo the tournament.
By Wednesday, tournament officials were even hotter. Davis admits that he misread the tournament schedule and failed to inform his players that they were scheduled to play a consolation-bracket game Wednesday against Campbell Hall.
After a Hunter player pointed out that the team was listed in a newspaper as being scheduled to play a tournament game that afternoon, Davis telephoned Simi Valley Coach Dean Bradshaw and informed him that Canoga Park would be unable to play because players had not brought their uniforms to school.
Davis also told Bradshaw that Canoga Park would be unable to play Thursday's tournament game against Palmdale because the Hunters had a conference game scheduled against Grant.
Bradshaw informed Campbell Hall and Palmdale that their games were canceled.
Had the Hunters won their opener, they would have advanced to the winner's bracket and played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
A tournament official said he had sent a letter to City Section Commissioner Hal Harkness explaining the tournament's version of what took place.