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Fisher Is a Tough Nut for Defenses to Crack : Basketball: Southwestern Academy senior is averaging 45 points a game.

January 31, 1991|MITCH POLIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a nonleague game against Le Lycee Francais of West Los Angeles last week and guard Mike Fisher of the Southwestern Academy in San Marino was having another good day.

Fisher, 17, had scored 31 points--and that was only in the first half.

Fisher finished with 61 points and, just for good measure, duplicated the feat Monday against Stratford Prep.

On Dec. 17 against Pacific Christian, Fisher scored a career-high 73 points, one short of the all-time Southern Section record of 74 set by Nick Tenneriello of Colbert in the 1967-68 season.

With his most recent scoring barrage, Fisher has increased his average to an eye-popping 45 points a game with 675 points in 15 games. That puts the 6-foot senior on a pace to surpass the single-season State and Southern Section scoring records of 44.3 points set by Tracy Murray of Glendora in the 1988-89 season.

Even Fisher says he is at a loss to explain how he is producing such astounding offensive totals for Southwestern, which has 75 students and competes in the Southern Section Small Schools Division.

"Last year I averaged 23.4 (points) and I expected to maybe average 30 this season, but nothing major like this," he said. "I did not expect this at all."

For that matter, neither did Southwestern Coach Ken Guthrie. He said Fisher was forced into more of an offensive role when guard Steve Sonsma went out with a minor injury early in the season.

"He (Sonsma) and Mike were our only experienced players returning and they were our leading scorers last year," Guthrie said. "But when Steve was injured, Mike had to pick up the scoring load and that's what he's done."

But with Fisher's big numbers, there have been big questions.

The biggest may be: Is Fisher a legitimate scorer or is he merely posting huge totals against inferior small schools?

"People ask that question all the time, whether he can play at another level and still score and I think the answer is affirmative," Guthrie said. "I think he could score playing against anyone."

Although Fisher has played against mostly small-school teams, Guthrie said he gave perhaps a better indication of his scoring ability earlier this season.

He scored 31 points against Campbell Hall of North Hollywood--the No. 2 ranked team in the state in Division V--in a Providence Tournament game in December. In January against Boys Republic of Chino, a much taller 1-A Division team, he scored 49 points.

Guthrie thinks Fisher ranks with the best players he has ever seen in the Small Schools Division. That includes UCLA forward Mitchell Butler, who played against Southwestern in the Liberty League when he competed at Oakwood of North Hollywood.

"I think he's the best player to come out of this level since Mitchell Butler," Guthrie said. "He played against us for four seasons and he was always very good but people always wondered about (his ability).

"I think Mike carries some of the same stigma. When we play against anybody, they all know who he is. It's the same thing as (Mitchell Butler). This kid could be playing at any school in the state and be excelling."

Said Fisher: "There are some people who are jealous and say it's the competition. But if you shoot mostly from the outside like I do, it doesn't really matter what level you're playing at."

Guthrie says Fisher makes the most of his scoring opportunities. He says Fisher might be scoring even more points if he played for a taller team.

"Who knows how much he could score if we had an inside threat," Guthrie said. "If we had someone to take the pressure off him inside there is no telling how much he would score.

"But we just don't have a lot of size. Mike is 6-0 and he's our tallest player. So we have to try to create an up-tempo. He could play up front but that's not where his future is. His future is at guard and that's where we play him."

Guthrie thinks Fisher has a bright future as a college player. Fisher said he has been contacted by numerous NCAA Division I schools including Cincinnati, Cal State Long Beach, Pepperdine, Yale, Harvard, Brown and Cornell.

"I've sent letters to a lot of schools and they've responded," he said. "I've also gone out and visited some on my own but I haven't made any commitments and I don't know about next year yet. I really just try to play as well as I can and I'll see what happens. Colleges can tell if you're compatible to their style of play."

Guthrie said Fisher has improved dramatically since he first arrived at Southwestern as a junior.

"Mike is really just starting to jell," he said. "He's a good player and he's still developing and starting to grow. There's no telling how much better he can get."

As a freshman and sophomore, Fisher attended South Pasadena High, although he didn't play basketball.

"I mainly played outside of school," he said. "But I had some academic problems and I didn't feel comfortable there. Here, I feel like I can relax more."

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