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ORANGE COUNTY ALL-STAR BASKETBALL GAME : Carlson Was Katella's Hub : North: Senior forward helped turn the season around for Knights.


ANAHEIM — Ask Katella basketball Coach Tom Danley about Brian Carlson, then stand back.

You're bound to get a stream of Danley-isms , which are always reserved for his most-prized players.

"Brian was the hub to the wheel," Danley said. "He was our one blue-chipper. He was Mr. Everything. He was the key."

And so forth.

Such praise is not unwarranted. In fact, Katella's return to prominence can be attributed to the success of Carlson, a 6-foot-6 senior forward.

The Knights had losing records in four of the last five seasons, but turned it around this season. They finished 17-8, their best record since 1987.

At the center of it was Carlson, the hub.

He averaged 19.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and was named second-team All-Orange County. Yet, he doesn't desire individual fame.

"I thought we could have been a lot better," said Carlson, who will be playing in Saturday's Orange County All-Star game at Orange Coast College. "We should have won 20-23 games. We could have done it, we just didn't come together."

That Carlson set such high team standards is not surprising. They are similar to what he expected out of himself.

Carlson, a four-year letterman, stepped up is game this season, becoming one of the dominant players in the county.

He already was a solid post player, where his leaping ability allowed him to control the inside. Carlson has cleared 6-8 in the high jump.

But he improved his outside game this season, making him difficult to defend.

"That's his real strength," Danley said. "He's one of the most complete players I've had here."

That ability was never more apparent than in the semifinals of the Katella Klassicagainst Long Beach Millikan. Carlson scored a career-high 34 points, inside and out. He also sank two free throws with 12 seconds left to clinch a 75-72 victory.

The next night, the Knights won the tournament title.

"That was the highlight of my season," Carlson said. "I had never won our tournament before. It was something I wanted real bad."

Carlson nearly saved Katella against Magnolia in the first round of the Southern Section II-A playoffs. He scored 21 points and tipped in a miss to give the Knights a 69-68 lead with 30 seconds left.

But Magnolia scored, then stole the ball from the Knights, leaving Carlson disappointed.

"That game will stick with me," Carlson said. "It was a chance to prove ourselves. We didn't respond."

Not that Carlson could blame himself for anything.

"Brian was the reason for our success this season," Danley said. "As he went, we went."

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