It may have taken a season of stern discipline from his coach--including a week's suspension from the team--but Mike Flores finally reached his potential Saturday night. As a result, the Mount Miguel High School boys' basketball team reached tonight's San Diego Section 3-A semifinal.
Flores, the county's tallest player at 6-10, scored 26 points Saturday to lead the Matadors to a 61-55 victory over Sweetwater in a quarterfinal game. For Coach Art Edge, who had criticized Flores for lackadaisical play in a playoff game against Monte Vista, the victory demonstrated what Flores could do.
"Our offense was geared to go inside to him," Edge said. "It was a very similar strategy to what we used against Monte Vista in the playoff, but he wasn't involved (against Monte Vista). In the Sweetwater game, he really wanted it."
That was certainly not the case earlier this season when Mount Miguel, favored to win the Grossmont League title, lost 7 of its first 12 games. Edge believed a big reason for the Matadors' slow start was that Flores, a senior, was not doing his share.
Edge suspended Flores from the team for a week, advising him to use the time "to decide whether he really wanted to play basketball."
Said Flores: "It really did me some good. I sat and talked it out with my family and I realized I hadn't been playing up to my potential, like the coach said. I also talked with my teammates about what I should do."
After Flores' return, the Matadors won 10 straight games and finished the season tied for the Grossmont League title with Monte Vista. In the playoff game to determine the league's No. 1 seed in the section playoffs, Flores started strong, scoring eight points in the first quarter. But Monte Vista held him to three points the remainder of the game and won, 55-47.
Even after Mount Miguel beat Torrey Pines, 60-53, in the first round of the playoffs, Edge remained dissatisfied with Flores' performance. As he had earlier in the season, Flores responded to Edge with what was arguably his best game of the season against Sweetwater.
Can Flores play at the same level tonight against No. 1-seeded Morse (22-2), which has been rated the county's best since the beginning of the season. Flores is brimming with confidence at the prospect of playing Morse, a team he calls "overrated."
"Don't get me wrong, they're a very good team with great athletes," he said. "But they are human and they can be beaten with the right strategy."
Mike Flores Mount Miguel High Position: Center Height, Weight, Class: 6-10, 220, Sr. Last Week: Flores scored 26 points in Mount Miguel's 61-55 victory over Sweetwater in the quarterfinals of the San Diego Section 3-A playoffs.