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Coaches freed to halt fights, a change that helps players

By Langston By Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr. writes about videogames, gadgets, golf and sports for The Charlotte Observer and Charlotte.com.

The National Federation of State High School Associations made a very good rule change this week.

It approved a rule revision that will allow high school basketball coaches to go onto the court to break up a fight or prevent one from escalating.

Previously, the coach could only go onto the floor if summoned by an official.

Players are much more likely to listen to a familiar face, particularly that of their head coach, during a heated situation, and the problem with the old rule was that the officials could be too busy trying to stop something bad from happening that they might forget to waive the coach over, or simply be unable to do so.

With the penalties for fighting – and for leaving the bench – being so stiff, this is a welcome rule. A single multi-player brawl, at least in North Carolina, can cost you a postseason.

The new rule also calls for assistant coaches to stay on the bench to make sure all other players remain there during a fight or a potential fight.

“By removing the requirement of the head coach being beckoned onto the floor by the officials, it should result in a more expedient resolution of the situation and restoration or order,” said Theresia Wynns, National Federation director of sports and officials education. “The change will also allow the officials a greater opportunity to assess appropriate penalties by being able to observe the situation because of the increased assistance the head coach will provide by their presence.”

Area coaches agreed with Wynn’s sentiments. And they should.

This is a common-sense approach.

“I think this rule is a good thing, you know, because you can prevent players from being suspended,” Marvin Ridge boys coach Gosnell White said. “There’s a big penalty for fighting. Now, you can lose players for two games and conferences have rules that can take them for more. Like I said, this will be a good thing. I think coaches can prevent a lot of this stuff from happening before it gets started.”

Olympic basketball star Jevon Patton commits

• Olympic High point guard Jevon Patton, who helped lead the Trojans to the N.C. 4A state championship, has verbally committed to Loyola (Md.). Patton, a 5-foot-8 senior point guard, was an all-conference pick in the ME-GA 7 3A/4A conference.

Patton transferred from Gastonia’s Highland Tech after a junior season when he was named Gaston County player of the year by the Gaston Gazette. He sacrificed his scoring to lead a talented Trojans team to a 30-0 finish.

Notes

• Shelby’s boys and South Iredell’s girls won the N.C. 2A Western track regionals at Bunker Hill. South Iredell’s Julisa Scoles won the girls triple jump and long jump. Newton-Conover’s Marquise Pope won the 100 and 200, and Bunker Hill’s J’Len Wilson won both hurdle events.

• Cuthbertson’s boys and girls won Midwest 2A regional track championships at North Stokes Saturday.

• MaxPreps tracked the nation’s winningest high school football programs since 2008, and Butler (70) was tied with the fifth-most wins. Clairton (Pa.) was first with 78. Also on the list was Albemarle (66). Other Carolinas teams were Tarboro (72, tied for third), Northern Guilford (65) and Dillon, S.C. (65)

Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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