Two Vallivue High boys basketball players had their one-game suspensions denied by the District Three Board of Control on Wednesday, forcing them to miss Wednesday night’s win-or-go-home district tournament game.
Vallivue’s Tyas Kitchen and Landon Cain were ejected from Tuesday’s 4A District Three semifinal loss at Bishop Kelly after a scuffle at the end of the third quarter.
Vallivue’s Jerred Monnier and Bishop Kelly’s Max Rice scrambled for a loose ball, and Monnier delivered an elbow up high as he dove for the ball. That led Bishop Kelly’s Levi Bird to shove Monnier with two hands in front of the BK bench after the buzzer, setting off a bench-clearing for both teams.
Both teams were awarded two technical fouls, but officials determined Kitchen and Cain left the Vallivue bench, earning them ejections. Vallivue appealed their suspensions to the Board of Control, which upheld the original ruling.
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“After the rules committee looked it over on tape, their justification was we went further outside the bench area than them, so we were at fault,” Vallivue coach Ryan Lundgren said. “That’s what I mean by the gray area. I just don’t feel like it’s a black-and-white rule.”
Lundgren said he doesn’t blame the officials or want Bishop Kelly to be retroactively punished. But he said the situation could have been avoided with the original foul called on Monnier.
“It was a loss of control by the officials,” Lundgren said. “I’m not going to completely blame them because this is kind of the last straw. Idaho needs three officials. There’s no question about it.
“They might argue the cost or whatever. But this is a classic example of why we need three officials in high school basketball. There’s just too much stuff going on to be able to watch both benches, both coaches, everything going on on both sides of the floor, and officiate a game cleanly.”
Cain is the Falcons’ third-leading scorer at 8.8 points per game, and Kitchen fourth at 7.6.
Vallivue beat Emmett 64-62 on Wednesday night without its two senior starters. The players can return for Thursday’s winner-to-state game against Skyview (6 p.m. at Ridgevue High in Nampa).
Going into Wednesday’s game, Lundgren said the Falcons wouldn’t use the players’ absence as an excuse as they try to qualify for state for the first time since 2010.
“The strength of this team has always been our depth and our resiliency. I have no doubt in my mind we’re going to come out and compete (Wednesday night).
“We’re going to have a chance to win because these guys have been committed since day one to get to state and make a run at it. They’re not going to throw in the towel now.
“No excuses. It’s unfortunate, but we’re not going to use it as an excuse. We’re going to use it to motivate us to play hard (Wednesday night) and have a chance hopefully Thursday to earn a berth to state.”