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LEADING THE WAY : MONICA FILER : Point Loma Star Leads by Learning

She’s all-assist, all-star and preseason All-American. She dishes, shoots, hustles and wins. But perhaps the best way to understand Monica Filer of Point Loma High School is to see how she deals with a loss.

After all, she wins so much you get used to that.

She is a four-year varsity player who was on the winning side in 137 of her first 138 high school games. Point Loma’s record during her four years, including Tuesday’s San Diego Section playoff semifinal victory over Poway, is 119-5. Point Loma won San Diego Section 3-A championships in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

This year, she already has set the state record for assists in a season with 357. For her career, she has 737--a San Diego Section record.

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She is preparing to play her last game in San Diego, pending possible state tournament regional games. Appropriately, it will be the San Diego Section Division I championship game against City Eastern League rival Mira Mesa in the San Diego Sports Arena Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

But let’s cut to a loss. The Pointers had won 143 games in a row at home until New Year’s Eve, 1988. That was when Chino beat the Pointers in Point Loma’s Ben Fisher memrial tournament, 50-39.

There was no pouting and no quitting. Just some agitated determination.

“Monica told me later she learned from that game,” Point Loma Coach Lee Trepanier said. “That’s what it’s all about. She took about eight three-point shots in the Chino game. She tried to do it all.”

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Maybe that is because she can do it all . . . or come awfully close.

Winners learn from losses, and Filer said she didn’t take the Chino loss hard. She said the Pointers were not facing tournament elimination, as they are now.

“Losing just gets me ready to play ball,” Filer said. “Our team doesn’t get mad at each other after a loss. Sometimes a loss is best. It makes you work harder. On the court, you have to think the other team is your enemy. And a loss makes it easier to think that.”

Filer, a 5-foot-6 point guard and one of Street and Smith’s magazine preseason All-American picks, is pretty good at viewing the opposition as the enemy. It is something she picked up from years of playing basketball. She has been playing since the fifth grade.

“But it was my eighth-grade year when I decided I really wanted to make something of myself as a basketball player,” she said. “And now, I go down to the rec center and play ball with the fellas.”

Said Trepanier said: “During the summers, and on Saturdays during the winters, she plays ball with the guys. The only way to get better is to play with people better than you.”

So she does. And she doesn’t take any abuse, either.

“I’ll elbow them and push them, and they’ll look at me like, ‘Girl, what are you doing? Don’t push me,’ ” Filer said. “I make one nice move and they say, ‘She’s not gonna do that against me,’ and they hustle more. Which makes me hustle.”

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All of which trickles down to her play at Point Loma, giving her the confidence to go against any opponents.

“One on one, there’s no guard in San Diego who can hang with me,” Filer said.

Said Trepanier: “In my opinion, she’s the best passer this county has ever seen. She can go to her left as well as any girl. Her left-handed layup is her better layup. She’s also a pretty good shooter. People don’t realize how much she works.”

She would rather make a good pass than a good shot. Her favorite move is to make a quick drive to the basket and dish off.

“I really enjoy passing,” she said. “At first, I wasn’t much of a passer. Now, it’s more handy to pass. The crowd gets into it, the team gets into it and I get into it. And it’s not like just anyone can pass.”

Not just anyone can lead, either, but Trepanier called Filer, the Point Loma captain, the best captain he has had. What’s more, she has a 3.0 grade-point average, with an interest in studying criminology in college.

“She wants to be a winner,” Trepanier said. “She wants to be the best. A coach is always looking for someone to be a captain, someone on the floor to take leadership. Last year, I didn’t have a team leader. Monica was still young. This year, if someone is not doing a job, Monica gets after them.”

Said Filer: “It just comes naturally. I guess it’s just the way I act. Everyone looks at me as Monica , and nobody gives me any lip. Sometimes I’ll just look at someone and I don’t even have to say anything.”

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