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Canyon girls basketball: Running the point

Canyon’s Brooke LeMar will try to take the Cowboys to their first league crown in 36 years

Posted: January 9, 2010 10:40 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Canyon senior Brooke LeMar directs the Cowboys' run-and-gun offense from the point guard spot in her third season as a starter. The Southern Illinois University-bound senior leads a balanced squad in scoring, assists and steals.

 

Every girls basketball coach in the Foothill League knows who she is.

A few have found themselves trying to scheme around her talent.

“I tell you, there’s one player I’m looking forward to graduating, and that’s Brooke LeMar,” says Hart head coach Zach Koebel, before complimenting the point guard’s game.

But it’s not just coaches she leaves an impression on.

During the Canyon Classic, an annual preseason basketball tournament at the high school, she was recognized behind the scorer’s table doing homework.

A referee stopped by to say hello and joked about a technical foul he gave her. The passionate floor leader drew the call for throwing up her hands in frustration after a previous whistle.

LeMar can laugh about it now. She was a freshman at Golden Valley at the time, but the referee recalled the incident from three years ago.

Needless to say, the Southern Illinois University-bound point guard has a game that leaves an impression.

Now the Cowboys’ starting point guard and floor leader, LeMar has become one of the league’s top talents and figures to play a large role in Canyon’s league-title efforts.

She’s averaging 13 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals and is perfect fit for Canyon’s run-and-gun style of play.

But it’s more than just a numbers game. She has a determination that encourages her teammates.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody as competitive as (LeMar),” says Canyon head coach Chuck Johns. “She wants to win at everything she does, and that carries on to the basketball court. She’s done a great job for us this year.”

She admits to playing with a bit of a swagger. But for her teammates, there’s a surety her game will back it up.

“I think that’s evident with a lot of good players,” Johns says. “If they’re confident out there and they display that confidence, then it rubs off on the other kids.”

Her leadership helped keep the Cowboys’ morale up last year, as it weathered a mid-season coaching change and the loss of players ruled ineligible.

When former Canyon head coach Stan Delus was relieved of his duties Jan. 13, 2009, after it was revealed that residency records for Vanessa Aguilar and Alexa Davison were falsified, the team had to forfeit 11 wins a day after league play began.

LeMar says the team resolved itself to give everything every game no matter who was in charge.

The Cowboys finished their remaining schedule 7-3 and pulled out several tough wins under interim coach Todd Jackson.

“It was different,” she says. “But we just had to play hard, either way, whoever our coach was. We had respect for all of our coaches, and we didn’t mind one bit that our assistant coach took over.”

LeMar says she learned to embrace the role of a point guard from a young age. The position was thrust upon the 5-foot-4-inch LeMar when she started in the fourth grade.

“Pretty much because of my height,” LeMar laughs, when asked about the playing point. But there was a reason she kept with it.

 “It’s always been my favorite position. They’re the coach on the floor, and they’re the leader and I just like those attributes.”

By the time she started high school, the game was more than a hobby.

The self-professed “gym rat” began playing for club basketball teams in the ninth grade, and at the same time, learned valuable lessons from coaches and instructors.

She mentioned the importance of core classes, the college-application process and maturity that comes from playing tough road games, as things she learned. But she’s always trying to take in knowledge about the game.

“Honestly, I just watch any basketball — high school, WNBA, NBA. ... I don’t have one specific person I watch,” LeMar says. “I just watch everybody.”

The pass-first guard also improved her ability to attack gaps in opposing defenses over the summer.

Johns says he’s already seen her ability to take over a game come through for Canyon.

Canyon was struggling late in a 59-53 win over Granada Hills on Dec. 18.

“We got a little stagnant and we were struggling for points,” Johns says. “We took a time out and ran a couple of sets and just put the ball in her hands, and she scored a couple of big buckets.”

LeMar says it helps to know she can count on teammates who are able to share the load on offense.

“A team can’t double-team one player, because we have multiple players who can score,” LeMar says.

But her drive will be critical to the team’s success in a lot of ways.

“You know they know — all of her teammates know — that she wants to win just as badly as anybody on the floor, if not more, and it’s always important to give the best effort,” Johns says.

 

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