San Diego Athlete of the Week : Rivera Has the Edge on Success

Anthony Rivera meets with Art Edge, his basketball coach and school counselor, every weekday morning.

Rivera arrives at Mount Miguel High School at 7:30 a.m. and goes to Edge's office, where for an hour before regular classes begin, he will do homework and Edge will help him with his studies.

Every once in a while, as you might expect, they will talk about basketball, though most of that is saved for practice after school. For the last few weeks, when basketball has come up, Edge has been telling Rivera about his plans to move him to point guard from off-guard.

"We would talk about it, and I would try to teach him what kind of role the point guard has to play and what kind of shots the point guard can get and so on," Edge said. "Anthony's our best player, but other teams were taking him out of the offense. I wanted to make him point guard, because then he'd have the ball."

But Edge didn't rush things. Only after weeks of talking and teaching did the coach let the student make the transition.

Rivera made his debut at point guard last Friday against Grossmont League-leading Valhalla.

Rivera, The Times' athlete of the week, scored a career-high 42 points and led Mount Miguel to a 78-63 upset victory. Last Tuesday, Rivera scored 22 points in a 55-43 victory over El Capitan.

"I was as surprised as anyone after that 42-point game," said Rivera, a senior. "I knew I was having a good night, but I was more concerned with trying to win the game. Then, at the end of the fourth quarter, one of the players' dads from the stands flashed his fingers to say that I'd have 42 points if I made my last two foul shots."

He made them, and Edge has a new point guard.

"He's the guy who runs our team anyway, so I figured why not just put the ball in his hands?" Edge said.

Mount Miguel's football coach, Gary Cooper, has been putting the ball in Rivera's hands the past two seasons. As the Matadors' starting quarterback, Rivera led his team to two straight San Diego Section 3-A semifinal appearances.

And last year, Rivera, along with power forward Haywood Mathis, led Mount Miguel's basketball team to a semifinal in which it lost, 58-54, to Morse, the eventual section 3-A champion.

Rivera missed a jumper in the final 20 seconds that could have tied the score.

"I've been close (to a section championship game) so many times," Rivera said. "I guess I could say I'm disappointed, but at least I've been there a lot. Maybe this basketball season, we can get there."

At the moment, it looks unlikely. Mathis quit to concentrate on a possible college football career, so Rivera has had to carry the team. Mount Miguel is 6-9 overall and 4-5 in the Grossmont League. However, since every team makes the playoffs this year, a section title still isn't impossible.

And if anyone can help make that possible, said Edge, it's Rivera.

"Anthony is the kind of kid that if you ask him to raise his level of play on the basketball court or football field, he has the ability to do that," he said.

Anthony Rivera

Mount Miguel High

Position: Guard

Height, Weight, Class: 5-8, 160, Sr.

Last Week: Scored a career-high 42 points in Mount Miguel's 78-63 upset of Grossmont League-leading Valhalla on Friday night. Also had 22 points in Matadors' 55-43 win over El Capitan last Tuesday.

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