If Jack Dyck, the Beverly Hills High School basketball coach, needs a hole filled in a hurry, he calls a Plummer.
To be precise, he calls on senior guard Chris Plummer, who has been filling it up from long distance this season for the Normans and is averaging 20.3 points a game.
Plummer, taking advantage of the introduction of the three-point shot in prep basketball this season, is a big reason why Beverly Hills is off to one of the best starts in school history with a 15-1 record as the week began.
The Normans have not been playing patsies, either. They have won two tournaments, beating Burbank in the semifinals and Hoover in the finals of the Hoover-Burbank tourney and taking the Hart tournament by defeating San Fernando, Hart and then Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the title game.
In the semifinals of their own tournament, the Normans defeated Mater Dei, defending Division I state champion, but lost for the first time this season in the Beverly Hills finals to Ventura, 48-47. Dyck said that his team “played good defense but shot poorly” in the finals.
The Normans also didn’t shoot well last Friday in their Ocean League opener, but they still managed a 53-50 home victory over Santa Monica, defending CIF-Southern Section 4-A champion.
Plummer has been shooting well for most of the season. He has made about 53% of his field goal attempts and about 48% of his three-pointers from 19 feet, 9 inches. He has also doubled his scoring average of last year.
However, he is not the only reason why Beverly Hills is having such a good year. The team is getting a lot of help from its other veterans, who make up for their lack of height with hustle, hard work and togetherness.
Dyck does not have a player taller than 6-2 in his starting lineup, but the Normans, he said, “are very tight with each other” and play as a unit, “which is the most important thing in high school basketball.”
The other elements in the starting unit are 6-1 forwards Willie Crawford and Monroe Gorden, 6-2 center Michael Moore and 6-1 point guard Derek Patton.
Dyck’s center last year was 6-5 Lincoln Sneed, who has graduated. Sneed played well against other big men, and Dyck said that “we have no big guy this year, which really scares me.”
Nothing scares him, however, about his “perimeter players (Plummer and Patton), who can play with anyone in the league,” he said.
Dyck said that Moore, a transfer from Loyola, “jumps well and does a real good job defensively. He gives away three to six inches in height, but he rebounds well (In 15 games, he was leading the team in rebounding with an average of 5.6 a game).
“He has the quickness to beat people to positions and has disrupted the rhythm of post men we’ve played.”
He said that Crawford, an excellent running back and linebacker in football, began the basketball season late and with a partially separated shoulder incurred in a football playoff game.
Even though injured, he said, Crawford “was able to play and contribute, although he couldn’t shoot the ball. He gives us an element of toughness that establishes an edge for us out of the gate.” Gorden, a wide receiver in football and a sprinter in track, hurt his foot in the Hart tournament and missed three full games. But he returned to action against Santa Monica and scored 9 points, a little above his average of 8.4. He also rebounds well.
Patton is the team’s second-leading scorer with an average of 15 points a game and is also averaging 6.6 assists, by far the top mark on the squad. He was named the most valuable player of the Hoover-Burbank tournament and was also named to two other all-tournament teams.
“I wouldn’t trade Derek for anyone’s point guard,” Dyck said.
Dyck, in his 10th year at Beverly Hills, said that in the past he has had “two or three kids with talent. But this year we have eight or nine talented people.” The reserves who have played the most are Ryan Karp, Michael Foonberg, Scott Chorna and Fred Dardashti.
“We’re a very, very close team that is really concerned with winning, not with who scores,” he said. “And everybody fills his role.”
Plummer, a left-hander, has filled the role of designated outside shooter, and he is seldom out of character. Though he scored only nine points against Santa Monica last week, the Vikings did a good job of denying him the ball and limiting his shots.
He prepared all summer for the role of three-point shooter. “Coach Dyck told me to get ready for (taking three-point shots) this year,” Plummer said in an interview before a recent practice.
With his father, James, he marked out the proper distance for the three-point shot and painted a boundary line on his court at home. He and his father spent hours shooting the ball against each other from the three-point line, and his cousin, Angelo Robinson, also gave him shooting and guarding tips. Robinson played at Inglewood High School and the University of Utah and is currently playing professionally in New Zealand, Plummer said.
Cousin Angelo’s shooting genes may also be in Plummer’s makeup as well as those of another cousin, Jackie Robinson, about 35, who played basketball at Morningside High, Nevada Las Vegas and in the National Basketball Assn.
Plummer also played in summer leagues with the Converse All-Stars, averaging about 50% on three-pointers, and scored more than 30 points in several games.
“Last summer he came into his own,” Dyck said. “A three-point shot is a 16-footer for him.”
Dyck said he wouldn’t mind if Plummer attempted three-point shots more often than the four to six he takes each game, “but Chris is very unselfish.”
Plummer said that shooting a three-pointer from about 20 feet is not much different from his situation last year when he “was shooting it when it counted for two points.”
He agreed with Dyck that he could shoot the outside shot more often, but not necessarily to increase his scoring average. “I’ve got to start putting it up more,” he said. “If I do, the defenses will come out on me and that will open up the inside for our other guys.”
Plummer seems not to mind having a starring role, but he would probably be more comfortable with an Oscar for best supporting actor.