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Muir Can't Pull the Plug on Leonard; Falcons Win

February 07, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LA CRESCENTA — Amirah Leonard has the green light. And that usually means "Go" for the Crescenta Valley High girls' basketball team.

Leonard scored a career-high 44 points, including 10-of-17 shooting from three-point range, to rally the Falcons to a 79-71 Pacific League victory Tuesday over Muir.

Crescenta Valley (24-1, 9-0 in league play), which trailed by 13 points in the first half, clinched its third league title in four years.

Leonard raised her total of three-pointers to 201.

"I knew this was a game I had to come out and play in," said Leonard, a 5-foot-8 senior guard.

The Mustangs (21-4, 7-2) couldn't stop Leonard, although Shannon Lee and Charel Bailey fouled out trying.

Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, including four three-pointers, to trigger a 23-8 run that allowed the Falcons to overcome a 51-48 deficit and take the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.

Leonard's shooting technique may be unorthodox, but it is highly effective.

Shooting with both hands, not unlike the old-fashioned two-handed set shot, Leonard looked more like someone heaving a medicine ball. Her high-arc offerings often connected with only the bottom of the net.

"I guess I just taught myself how to shoot," she said. "I just keep doing the same thing on every shot."

Crescenta Valley Coach Marc Ward has resisted the temptation to tinker with Leonard's form.

"She's always shot the ball well, so I couldn't see changing it," Ward said. "You don't think it's going in, but you should see her in practice: eight out of 10, nine out of 10. . . . "

Leonard, who made 14 of 27 shots, kept the Falcons close with four three-pointers in the first quarter, which ended with Muir ahead, 25-18.

The Mustangs contained sophomore forward Michelle Greco, holding her scoreless in the first half and to two free throws in the third quarter.

However, Greco came back with nine points in the fourth quarter to help the rally.

"Amirah played the best game," Greco said. "She just couldn't miss."

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