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Pearson Elevated His Game


SHERMAN OAKS — From the moment Cody Pearson arrived at Notre Dame High as a freshman, he was hyped as a big-time player. But Pearson needed time to mature.

His underclass years were marked by temper tantrums and attempts to be spectacular instead of consistent.

By his junior year, he was a changed player, someone who had become a team leader and role model. By his senior year, he had raised his game to player-of-the-year status.

He averaged 24.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and led Notre Dame to the co-Mission League championship. He finished as the Knights' all-time scorer with 2,126 points in 111 games and all-time rebounder with 1,127.

His determination on and off the court explains his selection as The Times' Valley player of the year in boys' basketball.

"Cody never cut a corner in four years," Coach Rob DiMuro said. "Cody brought it every single night. It didn't matter if it was the game of the year or a game nobody watched. The difference in Cody is he never took a practice or a game off."

The 6-foot-4 Pearson improved each season. He averaged 10.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman, 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds as a sophomore and 23.6 points and 12.4 rebounds as junior.

But he didn't fulfill his most important goals until he gained court discipline.

"I've changed a lot from a punk freshman kid to a grown gentleman," he said. "I had to learn how to play the whole game. I tried to do too many spectacular plays at once. There are four quarters in a game and I tried to do something every time.

"As time went on, I became more of a leader. I was able to take the team underneath my own wings."

He spent countless hours in the gym working on his shooting and dribbling. And he devoted many more hours to academics. He entered Notre Dame as an at-risk student but is leaving with a 1070 SAT score and an academic plaque that he cherishes as much as any MVP trophy.

"My whole high school career has just been a battle," he said. "I learned if I don't give up and work hard, I can accomplish anything."

Said DiMuro: "His biggest improvement was consistency. This year he filled in the gaps. He avoided the emotional peaks and valleys. He was a rock all year long. We're so proud of him because he works so hard."


Shayne Berry / Chatsworth

5-9, Sr.


Berry had no shyness about shooting. He averaged 27.8 points and thrived on making pressure shots. Twice he made late three-pointers for victories.

Scott Borchart / Chaminade

6-9, Sr.


Borchart is the first four-time All-Valley honoree. He shot 64.9% for his career and had a career-record 1,788 points. This season, he averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Cecil Brown / Canoga Park

6-4, Sr.


Brown became a complete player this season, averaging 33.3 points, 13.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He scored 53 against Fresno Edison and 51 against Hollywood.

Mike Charleston / Grant

6-6, Sr.


Charleston lifted Grant to the Sunset Six League championship and the City quarterfinals with his all-around play. He averaged 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds.

Keilon Fortune / Kilpatrick

6-0, Sr.


Alpha League most valuable player averaged 34.3 points. Led Mustangs to first Alpha League title, school-record 27 victories and Southern Section Division V-AA championship game.

James Jenkins / Crescenta Valley

6-6, Sr.


Pacific League co-most valuable player averaged 23.2 points and 11.6 rebounds. Two-time All-Southern Section selection is also an All-American swimmer.

Tony Johnson / Quartz Hill

6-1, Sr.


Golden League most valuable player averaged 21.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Was part of two league championship teams in three-year varsity career.

Andrew Moore / Crespi

6-2, Sr.


Moore is Crespi's all-time scoring leader with 1,294 points. He averaged 17.1 points and was a three-time All-Mission League honoree for the Division IV-AA champions.

Steve Smith / Taft

6-2, So.


Proving he might be the best two-sport standout in the region, Smith displayed as much dominance in basketball as in football, averaging 26.4 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Coach of the year

Dick Dornan / Crespi

Assistants: Chris Yoakum, Paul Grazulis, Rob Poyer, Rob Nicholas, Nino Vacca

Dornan guided Crespi to its first Southern Section championship, winning the Division IV-AA title and finishing with a 24-7 record.

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