Editor’s note: This story was adjusted on Jan. 11 to clarify why the Golden Valley boys basketball players left the team’s bench.
Three Golden Valley varsity boys basketball players left the team’s bench Friday during the Grizzlies’ 48-40 loss to Eastside High of Lancaster at Hart High.
According to coach Larry Keys, senior forward Milan Taylor called a timeout during the first quarter of the Hart Holiday Classic seventh-place game and said he didn’t want to play anymore. Keys asked Taylor to leave.
Sophomore Stephan Alla also told Keys he didn’t to play and was asked to leave.
Sophomore Brandon Wilson, one of two players suspended for Friday’s game, also left the bench, according to Keys.
The players, Keys said, are no longer on the team.
On Thursday night against Canyon High, the Grizzlies blew an early lead and lost by 15 points to fall to 5-6 on the year. After the game, Keys suspended Wilson and another player for Friday’s contest for reasons that are unknown.
However, Keys said the three players who left the bench were more concerned with their roles on the team and the feeling that Keys favored one particular player than they were with the pair of suspensions.
“(They were upset with) what they felt they were allowed to do and not allowed to do and it came to a head,” said Keys, who is in his second year as head coach.
The incident comes one season after a Golden Valley boys basketball player was arrested on suspicion of battery in connection with a postgame dispute at West Ranch High.
Keys said after Friday’s game he is “very” concerned about his program’s reputation.
He said that “typically, where there is smoke there is fire,” but added he was confident more incidents wouldn’t occur.
Keys, though, conceded he probably hasn’t been as much of a disciplinarian with this team as he should have been. He wanted to “connect differently with this group and not force my will on them as I typically do and kind of bend a little bit to their personalities.”
“The more you bend,” he said, “the more they push.”
The Grizzlies now have 11 players on their roster. Taylor was an All-Santa Clarita Valley honorable mention selection last season. His father, Rodney, is Golden Valley’s freshman head coach.
Keys said he hadn’t made any changes to the coaching staff.
Alla and Wilson transferred to Golden Valley before this season.
Keys said that even if the players wanted to return, he wouldn’t necessarily allow it.
“Probably a question to ask me tomorrow,” Keys said. “Right now my answer is emphatically no.”
Golden Valley co-Athletic Director Robert Fisher said that if the players did want to return, any discipline would be Keys’ decision.
“We will get involved if needed,” Fisher said via text.
Golden Valley opens Foothill League play Jan. 10 at home against Canyon.