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Sunset Six League Knows Its Aim Is True

High Schools | Eric Sondheimer

January 11, 2005|Eric Sondheimer

Ralph Turner, the boys' basketball coach at Canoga Park, knows a gunner when he sees one.

"A gunner is someone who puts it up quickly anywhere on the floor," he said.

Turner won't have to look far to spot one when the Sunset Six League begins play Wednesday.

As Sun Valley Poly Coach Brad Katz puts it, "It is a league of gunners."

In fact, the Sunset Six League ought to change its name to Sunset Six-Shooter League.

The No. 1 gunner is 6-foot-2 senior Mike Danielian of Van Nuys Grant. He's averaging 31.5 points with high-point games of 50, 49 and 46, not including 68 points in a game against alumni. He has made 65 three-point baskets in 15 games.

Danielian is so unafraid to shoot the ball from anywhere on the court that Turner calls him "cuckoo."

"Last year, on the jump ball, he turned around and shot it right where he caught it, and it went in," Turner said. "It had to be 38 feet."

Danielian doesn't hesitate to fire it up from long range. "It's like shooting a layup to me," he said. "It doesn't feel any different."

Turner may be a bit envious of Danielian, but he doesn't fear him. He's promising his team will "shut him down" Friday when Grant plays at Canoga Park.

Shutting down Danielian means "we're going to hold him to 20 points," Turner said.

And Turner plans to unleash his own gunner in 5-9 senior Aaron Perry, who scored 51 points against Los Angeles Dorsey earlier this season.

Then there's Sun Valley Poly, which has a sophomore point guard, D.J. Gay, who scored 28 points in one game.

Danielian, though, has demonstrated that he ranks among the top shooters in the City Section. He makes three-pointers from distances well beyond the three-point line. Teams have learned they must start defending him as soon as he crosses the half-court line.

"He goes as far out as anybody," Grant Coach Howard Levine said. "The kid is the best spot-up shooter around."

And he has a constant green light to shoot from Levine.

"We allow the shooters to shoot, so we have to allow them to miss too," Levine said.

The big surprise is that Grant has started to improve as a team. Early in the season, Danielian was almost a one-man team. He was taking too many shots. Lately, his teammates have begun to contribute, helping the Lancers to an 8-7 record.

Danielian is no Gilbert Arenas, the former Grant standout who has become one of the top guards in the NBA for the Washington Wizards. But there's always a need for players who can shoot well, and that's what Danielian does.

*

When three boys' basketball players went on a ski trip and didn't immediately return, the team from Lake View Terrace Delphi Academy was left short of players while competing in a tournament at Panorama City St. Genevieve last month.

The school's coach, Beck Flanagan, apparently thought there was nothing wrong in letting a former Delphi student, Shawn Allen, fill in for the missing players.

Allen played in games against Lancaster Paraclete and Palos Verdes Estates Rolling Hills Prep, both losses.

He did so well that tournament organizers briefly considered him for the all-tournament team. The only problem was that Allen had no eligibility left.

The violation of Southern Section rules is so blatant that you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Imagine if teams could recruit alumni to make cameo appearances. Los Angeles Fairfax could ask UCLA's Josh Shipp to play against Westchester. Reseda Cleveland could borrow USC's Nick Young for Wednesday's game against Woodland Hills Taft.

The Southern Section has begun investigating the Delphi violation. Delphi's athletic director, John Goffredo, said Flanagan has been disciplined by the school.

"I know it's very serious," Goffredo said of the violation.

*

Russell Otis of Compton Dominguez is one of the best basketball coaches in Southern California, but it's hard to judge him against your everyday high school coach when he has a team of all-star transfer students.

Saturday, when Dominguez upset unbeaten Etiwanda, every player in its starting lineup once played for another school.

The Dominguez lineup consisted of Anton Autry (a transfer from Torrance Bishop Montgomery), Brantley Watson (Long Beach Jordan), Bryan Harvey (Carson), Quinton Watkins (Bellflower St. John Bosco) and A.J. Tolbert (St. John Bosco).

*

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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