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Gardner’s future uncertain

MHS guard must sit until section rules on Dec. 28 incident

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Gardner’s future uncertain

The future of Kiwi Gardner, left, and Manteca High's boys basketball team depends on how the Sac-Joaquin Section rules on an incident Gardner was involved with during a game on Dec. 28.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED January 5, 2010 3:12 a.m.

Manteca High junior Kiwi Gardner could miss a handful of games or forfeit the rest of his athletic eligibility depending on Sac-Joaquin Section sanctions. He will likely not play in tonight’s Valley Oak League opener with visiting Oakdale.

His uncertain status stems from an incident during Manteca’s second-round contest against Inglewood in the 10th Annual Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic on Dec. 28.

Gardner, who averaged 27.4 points, 4.5 assists and five steals in eight non-league contests, was ejected from the game with 43.7 seconds remaining. Inglewood won, 68-57.

Gardner quickly assessed two technicals for disputing a foul. The main issue centers around physical contact Gardner made with the official and the intent behind it.

According the California Interscholstic Federation’s Constitution and Bylaws (Article 2, Section 211):
“Any student who physically assaults the person of a game (referee, umpire or any other official assigned to interpret or enforce rules of competition) shall be banned from interscholastic athletics for the remainder of the student’s eligibility.”

If stripped of the rest of his or her eligibility, the student-athlete may apply for reinstatement to the CIF executive director 18 calendar months from the date of the incident.

The Bylaws also state that a violation of the rule occurs even if no contact is made if there was clear intent to cause physical harm.

Head coach Dave Asuncion does not dispute that contact was made and thought the ejection was justified. Gardner was suspended for the Buffaloes’ next game against Clovis East and was benched by Asuncion for the first quarter of the team’s tournament finale against Turlock.

“I thought the ejection was just and that the suspension was enough punishment,” Asuncion said. “He did make contact, which is a no-no, but at no point was he trying to hurt the official.”

Asuncion said the contact was a mere “brushing” of the official’s back by Gardner’s chest, but so far there is no video evidence to support either claim, which could prolong the process.

Officials and members of the competing schools must fill out written reports within 10 working days of the incident. Manteca High athletic director Ron Inderbitzin is under the impression that the 10-day period begins Monday because of the holidays.

The section is in the process of investigating the incident, and Gardner may not participate in a game until a ruling is made. Manteca has five games between tonight and Jan. 15, the final day of the 10-day period.

Inderbitzin was initially contacted by Sac-Joaquin Section on the morning of New Year’s Eve regarding the incident.

“We’ve heard a lot of different stories over what transpired,” Inderbitzin said. “We’re talking to people on our end and getting statements from people that were at the game, and CIF is taking care of everything else.

“It could be days or it could be weeks before it is decided what the best course of action will be, if there is any action to be taken at all.

“Once we take care of things on our end it’s going to be out of our hands.”

Gardner was named to the all-VOL first team as a sophomore after leading Manteca to its first conference title in 20 years. The Buffaloes are 7-4 going into the regular season and, with Gardner, are considered runaway favorites to repeat as champions.

“We went from a championship caliber team to one that has to fight for it,” Asuncion said. “We’re obviously a different team without (Gardner), but we have to prepare for our games with or without him.”

To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3538.

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