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WILMINGTON : Coach Is Charged With Punching Team Member

The former coach of the Harbor College women’s basketball team, fired this month for allegedly punching one of his players in the face and breaking her nose, now faces criminal charges over the incident.

Louie Nelson, 43, who as head coach of the Lady Seahawks turned a losing team into the reigning state champions in four years, was charged Tuesday with one count of felony battery and one of misdemeanor battery, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

Nelson, a former National Basketball Assn. player, has denied striking La Trece Polk, 19, during a Jan. 2 practice. His attorney, Richard Schwab of Century City, said Thursday that there was “never any criminal conduct.”

Polk, the team’s leading scorer and assist-maker, claims the altercation began after she argued with Nelson over his failure to break up a fight between two other players. When she sat down and refused to continue practicing, Polk claims, Nelson struck her at least twice, breaking her nose and knocking her to the floor.

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