The Role Player : All the Pieces That Fit : Point Is, Capo Valley Guard Stays on Target

Times Staff Writer

The Others Reggie Brown, Buena Park Blaine DeBrouwer, OV Tom Desiano, Mission Viejo Adam Lockwood, Estancia Chuck McGavran, Newport Rob Ramos, El Dorado J.T. snow, Los Alamitos Nathan Call has discovered there is a burden that comes with being very good at what he does, and it's getting heavier all the time.

Call, a junior at Capistrano Valley High School, has quickly established himself as one of Orange County's best point guards. Some say he's the best.

It's almost as if the No. 22 on his Capistrano Valley jersey has been replaced by a giant bull's-eye.

Said Call's coach, Mark Thornton: "You see Nate pictured as the perfect point guard, and it makes a lot of people point toward playing him.

"When they read about Nate in the papers and everything, I'm sure that inspires them. I think Nate brings out the best in other kids in our league. Case in point: the other night when we played Dana Hills and got beat. I thought (Dana Hills guard Will Jeffers) was really sky-high for the game. Bryan McSweeney got his 32 points and everybody else played well, but the reason we lost that game was because of Jeffers."

Jeffers had 18 points and committed only one turnover in the Dolphins' 80-73 upset. It's that kind of performance, coupled with the pressure of excessive recognition, that has made Call somewhat media shy. Soft-spoken, almost to a whisper, Call said being labeled the ideal point guard, as one newspaper did, has its drawbacks.

"People have been hassling me about it," he said. "Whenever you get press, they (opponents) think they're just as good and they try harder to show people."

Still, Call seems destined to receive his share of attention. There is little doubt that he is among the county's best at a position that requires a variety of athletic skills and an abundance of unselfishness. Call leads the county in assists with a 9.3-per-game average.

"He could score a lot more points if I wanted him to," Thornton said. "But he's the type of kid who doesn't have to score points. He likes to dish the ball off. He values an assist as much as he values two points, which makes for a good point guard. But if we need Nate to take the ball to the hoop, he'll do it, and he can score for us."

Though El Toro upset Capo Valley, 69-68, on Jan. 26, Charger Coach Tim Travers was impressed by Call's ability to orchestrate the Cougars' offense. "He can dominate a game without scoring," Travers said. "That's how important he is to that team.

"He brings them cohesiveness. When he's not in the game, they struggle."

Call averages about 10 points per game this season, and has no regrets. Three of his teammates also average at least 10 a game. "When the team scores, it feels like you've scored, too," he said.

The Cougar starters are shooting better than 50% from the field. Numbers such as these suggest that Call not only moves the ball around, he also sets up his teammates for easy shots.

Guard Gregg Bujnovsky, who leads Capistrano Valley with a scoring average of 15.6, has become the biggest beneficiary of Call's talents. Bujnovsky said there have been times when Call surprised him by a crisp pass on the Cougar fast break. "But then, he surprises a lot of people," Bujnovsky said.

Thornton isn't surprised. After having Nathan's older brother, Burt, direct the offense the past four years, the coach knew who would get the Call this season. And he hasn't been disappointed.

"My point guard has been the type of kid who's able to run an offense for whatever situation we're facing on the floor," Thornton said. "Nate's been able to do that.

"He distributes the ball around very smoothly, too, which keeps people happy. They know that if they work to get open on offense, they're going to get the ball. That's his role--getting the ball in the hands of the proper people at the proper time."

And, though Nathan Call may not care to admit it, many believe nobody in Orange County does it better.

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