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'Cliff Helped Me Grow Up' : Dana Pagett Credits Basketball Success to Prep Coach

June 29, 1989|PAUL McLEOD | Times Staff Writer

Pagett's relationship with Warren, stretching almost three decades, may have been an influence. Warren continues to have success at Rolling Hills. He refers to Pagett as "my best friend," and he sees at least a half dozen Rancho Santiago games a year.

Warren was asked to analyze Pagett as a coach.

"In the past three years he has been the most underrated coach in basketball," Warren said. "He has changed in that time. He might not even know it, but he has changed his style and the personality of his teams have changed."

Ironically, Rancho Santiago has finished among the state's top 20 each of the past three years, and much of that is attributed to the fact that Pagett has put more emphasis on defense, which compliments his patented up-tempo offense.

"Defense creates opportunities for your offense," Pagett explained. In his early years at Rancho Santiago, Pagett often saw opponents attempt to exploit the Dons' lack of defense. That isn't the case now.

Warren, who doesn't mind passing out compliments, says Pagett "is definitely the kind of coach you want your son around." The question is, will Pagett move on to handle other sons somewhere else, or has he become cushy on the community college level?

"Right now I'm very happy here," was all he would say.

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