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'This Is My Team'

Lynwood's Wiley-Gatewood trusts herself and sets goal of guiding team to state title

March 03, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

In the Internet age, when everybody's ripe for criticism on message boards, Lynwood basketball player Sade Wiley-Gatewood seems to be the perfect target.

Rumors surround her. She's transferring to San Clemente ... or Brea Olinda ... or Pomona Ganesha. She's academically ineligible ... she's not enrolling at Tennessee.

In fact, Wiley-Gatewood has a 3.0 grade-point average, a respectable SAT score and a 22.1 scoring average.

"It's jealousy," said Wiley-Gatewood, a 5-foot-9 guard. "Really, I don't pay attention to it. Nothing's true about me. I just keep doing what I'm doing."

Of course, some things are true about the senior who keeps on playing basketball at the highest level. She is a great player. She has been named an All-American and has played a pivotal role in her team's remarkable success the last four seasons.

She says she doesn't have any true friends. "I have associates," she said. "Nobody likes you for yourself; they like you for what you are."

She trusts only her family. She says she has been betrayed too many times to have it any other way.

Since her family's move to Pomona two years ago, her father, Jerry Gatewood, has been driving Sade to and from school each day, a round trip that takes more than two hours. That grind was part of the reason she was being home-schooled at the beginning of this school year.

The family toyed with the idea of having her attend nearby Ganesha, and because she needed only one more class to graduate, even considered sending her to Tennessee in January to get an early start on college.

In the end, Wiley-Gatewood wanted to attend Lynwood, where she arrived on campus as the starting point guard, a prodigy who had been the only eighth-grader to ever attend prestigious camps hosted by Nike and the Women's Basketball Coaches Assn.

Lynwood has won 118 and lost only six since.

The most recent victory came Tuesday in a Southern Section Division I-AA semifinal at Cerritos Gahr, where second-seeded Lynwood (25-2) defeated third-seeded Long Beach Wilson, 61-55.

Wiley-Gatewood had 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals, and freshman Lenita Sanford added 18 points.

Wilson trailed by 11 points in the second quarter but pulled to within two points at 43-41 in the fourth quarter, only to have Wiley-Gatewood answer with a three-point basket.

A three-pointer by Sierrah Moore, who finished with a game-high 21 points, got the Bruins (27-5) to within three at 58-55 with 52 seconds left, but that's as close as they would get.

"These are the games Sade lives for," Lynwood Coach Ellis Barfield said. "This is center stage. She's as great as she wants to be."

The victory keeps alive Wiley-Gatewood's dream to win four section titles and three state championships.

The next hurdle is Friday or Saturday at Long Beach State in the section championship game against top-seeded Long Beach Poly (27-2), a 46-40 winner over Long Beach Millikan.

"I'm ready to get it over with and done," Wiley-Gatewood said of her high school career. "I'm excited to go and play with Tennessee and be one of Coach [Pat] Summitt's players."

Her numbers reveal a well-rounded game. She averaged 17.5 points as a freshman, 22.8 as a sophomore, 24.8 as a junior and 22.1 this season.

She has never averaged fewer than 8.5 rebounds, seven assists or four steals.

"Everything is all about winning," said Wiley-Gatewood, who has never shied away from responsibility. "This is my team. I believe we can win everything this year, but it depends on how I play and get my team involved and have them ready to play.

"If we can do it, people will think, 'OK, Sade is one of the great players.' "



Wiley-Gatewood's Record

Season-by-season averages for Lynwood senior Sade Wiley-Gatewood:

*--* Season Pts Reb Ast Stls Rec. 2000-01 17.5 8.5 8.5 4.0 28-3 2001-02 22.8 9.0 10.1 4.5 33-0 2002-03 24.8 8.7 7.0 4.5 32-1 2003-04 22.1 9.3 9.0 6.0 25-2


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