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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 12/18/2012 9:59:49 PM

Tyus Jones is frustrated because he is unable to do the one thing he loves to do most: play basketball with his teammates.

The Apple Valley junior gave it a go Tuesday night when sixth-ranked Hopkins traveled to the third-ranked Eagles’ gym for a Class 4A nonconference game. Apple Valley came away with a 73-64 victory, with the stunning postscript that Jones played less than six minutes. As he told me afterwards, he has been struggling with a bad lower back for weeks. He has not been able to practice for a week and he described the pain as “severe.”

“You never want to sit out, but that’s what’s happening right now,” he said.

Apple Valley is 4-1 with Tuesday’s victory. Jones said he was able to play through the injury in a loss to Park Center and win over Minnetonka, but the pain level was too high to remain in Tuesday’s game. He left early in the game, went to the locker room and when he came out for the second half he was wearing street clothes.

“It’s been bothering me for a few weeks now, but it just got severe recently,” he said. “I’ve been trying to push through it for the past two games; against Park Center it was real bad and Minnetonka it was bad, too. I felt it in warm-ups (tonight). I tried to give it a go, I thought it might loosen up but it didn’t.”

College coaches from the nation’s top programs have been constant visitors to Apple Valley, including University of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, who was in the gym Tuesday. Doctors have told Jones (pictured here on the bench in the second half) that rest is the only treatment. Eagles coach Zach Goring said his team is prepared to play without its star until he is able to return.

“He was 50-50 tonight, and he went for a while,” Goring said. “It’s a matter of rest, but how much? We went a week now and we’re right back (where we started). It could be a week or two, but it is what it is.”

Apple Valley will open South Suburban Conference play Friday at home against Bloomington Kennedy, followed by the Granite City Classic in St. Cloud on Dec. 28-29, where the Eagles will meet St. Cloud Tech and Osseo.

The upside for Apple Valley on Tuesday was the surprising victory over Hopkins, which has won three of the last four Class 4A state championships. The Royals (4-2) led by 16 points in the first half but the Eagles regrouped without Jones.

Dustin Fronk led Apple Valley with 27 points, hitting five of eight three-point attempts, Dennis Austin scored 18 and Harry Sonie – who took over at point guard when Jones left – scored 15. Jamal Davis scored 17 for Hopkins, Jacob Wright had 14 and Kamali Chambers 12.

“(The win) provides a lot of confidence for those guys,” Goring said. “We’ve played a lot of summers almost without Tyus, because he’s been with USA Basketball and playing all around the country, which I totally support. So Harry’s run the point, Dustin’s been even more of a scoring threat without Tyus, Dennis Austin grew up a lot tonight and the big kid (6-10 freshman Brock Bertram, who had nine rebounds) is just going to keep getting better.”

No one knows when Jones will be able to play. But one thing is certain: He won’t be rushed back into action.

“We’ll try to get him back as soon as we can, but at 100 percent,” Goring said. "He’s got a lot of years of basketball left.”

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 383
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,357
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

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