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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Arenas Lights Up L.A. Watts Games

Basketball: He scores 29 points but J.W. North defeats Grant in first round, 57-44.

June 21, 1998|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Who's number 13?

What's his name?

What city is Grant High in?

Those were some of the questions members of the Norwalk High boys' basketball team asked Saturday as they watched Grant guard Gilbert Arenas score 29 points during the Lancers' 57-44 loss to J.W. North in a first-round game of the L.A. Watts Summer Games at Franklin High.

Norwalk suffered a 57-point drubbing to Fremont in the previous game, but many of the team's players seemed to forget about that loss as they marveled at Arenas' offensive repertoire.

Whether he was swishing a three-pointer, throwing down a right-handed dunk, tipping in a missed shot or sinking a free throw, Arenas scored in a variety of ways in the game that was played with 20-minute halves and a running clock.

Rumors have persisted for months that Arenas is going to transfer from Grant to Valley Pac-8 Conference rival Sylmar for his senior season, but the 6-foot-3, All-City Section 4-A Division guard has denied them.

He made nine of 16 shots, four of eight three-point attempts and seven of nine free throws against J.W. North, which advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Section Division I-A playoffs in March.

Arenas' three-pointer tied the score, 15-15, with 8:46 left in the first half, but the Huskies outscored the Lancers, 15-6, to end the half and take a 30-21 lead at intermission.

J.W. North extended its lead to 43-30 with 10 1/2 minutes left in the game, but Arenas scored eight consecutive points to cut Grant's deficit to 43-38 with eight minutes left.

J.W. North countered with a 9-0 run to take a 52-38 lead with 3:35 remaining.

"I think we did some good things out there," Grant Coach Howie Levine said. "We made a nice run at them in the second half, but they are a traditionally tough team in this tournament. They hit the boards hard and they get a lot of second shots."

J.W. North scored 10 points after rebounding its own misses and could have had another four if not for missed free throws.

Lionel Dixon scored 17 points for the Huskies and eight other players scored for J.W. North.

Only five players scored for Grant, which got seven points from Krishna Evans, five from Daniel Tarr, two from Ryan Logan and one from Justin Buttikofer.

Levine, who will begin his 13th season at Grant this winter, didn't seem overly concerned with his team's unbalanced scoring.

He realizes it is June and the start of the regular season is more than five months away.

He's also trying to give Rashad Winston and Logan as much time at point guard this summer so Arenas can move to the wing permanently.

And what about the rumors regarding Arenas?

"As I said before, as far as I know he's going to be playing with us," Levine said. "Unless I hear otherwise, I'm going to assume that he's going to be with us."

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