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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Lakey Needs More Sharpening on Point

July 01, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — It's going to take some time for Russell Lakey to grow into his new role as Harvard-Westlake High's starting point guard.

In one recent stretch, the Wolverines lost five consecutive summer games, including three in one day in a tournament in Long Beach.

But things are beginning to look up for Lakey and Harvard-Westlake, which romped to a 59-38 victory over Montclair Prep in pool play of the War on the Floor tournament Tuesday night at Chatsworth High.

Although the Wolverines (2-0) won easily against the inexperienced Mounties (0-2), Lakey, who averaged 22 points a game as a sophomore shooting guard, showed he still struggles when playing the point.

He picked up three fouls in the first half, and got his fourth six minutes into the second half.

And he suffered through a dismal shooting night, making two of 12 shots. Both were on catch-and-shoot three-pointers in the first half.

"We know he can shoot," Harvard-Westlake Coach Greg Hilliard said. "He's going to have to learn how to drive more directly. With his size, he still tries to finesse his way in."

In that aspect, Lakey showed he still needs some work.

Midway through the first half against the Mounties, Lakey tried to drive inside and force a layup which was emphatically rejected by center Jason Anderson of the Mounties.

"He been kind of like our team," Hilliard said. "A little bit hot and cold."

But has learned the most important lesson of a point guard--individual statistics come second to the team performance.

"I'm not going to worry about my points," Lakey said. "I want to get everybody involved, so we come at teams from all angles."

Lakey finished with eight points and four assists, but the Wolverines got solid production from swingman Eric Geffner, who had a 16 points, and burly forward Alex Holmes, who added 13.

Lakey hasn't always been struggling with his shot. He scored 18 points in a 58-54 victory over Muir in the title game of the Valley Sports Foundation tournament last week. The victory avenged a 30-point loss earlier in the week, part of Harvard-Westlake's five-game skid.

If nothing else, Lakey looks more imposing. Last season, he was barely 5 feet 10 and weighed 150 pounds. He's nearly six feet tall and has added 10 pounds of muscle.

"I feel a lot more confident now that I'm a little bigger," Lakey said.

Lakey had to play the point at times last season after senior Victor Munoz went down with a knee injury. After a hot start, the Wolverines cooled off and finished third in the Mission League behind Chaminade and Loyola.

"We felt a lot of pressure after we started so well," Lakey said. "But that experience is going to help us. We've all grown up."

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