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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Burroughs Making Gaines With Addition of Freshman

Point guard fits in with her older teammates and the Indians seem to be peaking entering playoffs tonight.

February 17, 2001|DAVE DESMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BURBANK — Kevin and Phalesia Gaines thought they had the perfect name for their baby daughter: Tulyah.

It meant "Peaceful and Quiet One" in Irish and matched the name of the couple's favorite jazz disc jockey on a Southland radio station.

It didn't take long for them to second-guess their decision.

"When she was little, we began calling her 'Riot,' " said her mother, now Phalesia Sloan. "She almost knocked over her crib very early."

By the time Tulyah (pronounced: Too-lie-ah) Gaines was 4, she had taken up the drums.

Now in the ninth grade, the Peaceful and Quiet One is making a resounding impact at Burroughs High, where she is one of the region's budding stars in girls' basketball.

Gaines and the Indians (14-12) open the Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs tonight in a first-round game at Moorpark (17-6).

Burroughs is one of the region's hottest teams, winning its last six games to climb from fifth to third place in the Foothill League.

With returning standouts Sara Larquier, Danica Cunningham and Gracie Coronado in the lineup, it's been a team effort, but Gaines has become the catalyst.

A 5-foot-8 point guard, Gaines is averaging 14.7 points, four assists and 3.9 steals.

And her list of admirers continues to grow.

"She might be the best athlete in our league," Coach Jerry Mike of league rival Valencia said.

The UCLA women's team left a courtside ticket for Gaines at a recent game against USC.

"She's good," Hart Coach Dave Munroe said. "This girl can play. She's got a pull-up jumper like a guy."

That talent was evident last summer, when Gaines helped her National Junior Basketball team capture the 13-under national championship in Orlando, Fla.

But that was youth ball.

This is high school, and her opponents are bigger, older, more experienced.

"I didn't really know how good I could be," said Gaines, a standout sprinter in track. "People were expecting a lot from me and I didn't know how I'd handle it."

Neither did her teammates.

"We were going into the season without a point guard, but she quickly proved herself and held her own," guard-forward Larquier said. "She's a great player, not only skill-wise but as an all-around team player and leader on the court."

When Indian coaches told Gaines after a recent game that she had scored 24 points, she didn't particularly care, responding, "Yeah, but how many assists did I have?"

Gaines has 110 assists this season, 10 short of the school record, and is on pace to finish as Burroughs' career scoring and assist leader.

"She's one of the most exciting and team-oriented players I have had the opportunity to coach," Coach Doug Nicol said. "She's a Magic Johnson type, more concerned with doing a lot of things well rather than any one thing, and she's as good a defensive player as she is an offensive player."

A native of San Bernardino, Gaines moved to Burbank last year when her mother got a job working at the California Endowment in Woodland Hills, a philanthropic organization that helps other organizations provide medical assistance to the needy.

The family also considered Taft, Harvard-Westlake and Alemany before settling on Burroughs, a decision with which Tulyah is comfortable.

"I'm cool here," said Gaines, who has a 3.6 grade-point average. "I like it."

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