Improving Walker Leads Brea to Summer Tournament Victory
It’s only mid-July and the first round of the Servite High School summer basketball tournament, but there are several new developments on the hoops scene.
First and foremost is the rapid improvement of Keith Walker, Brea-Olinda’s 6-foot-5 senior forward.
In Brea’s 66-61 victory over Edison Thursday, Walker showed he might be one of the finest players in Orange County next winter.
Secondly, Mater Dei appears to have another good team. The Monarchs have height, good outside shooting and depth. What they don’t have is the answer to the following question: How do you beat St. Monica?
Mater Dei, which lost to St. Monica in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Section 5-AA playoffs last season, again lost to the quicker Mariners, 65-58.
Walker dazzled a large group of college coaches and scouts that included Bill Mulligan of UC Irvine, Joe Harrington of Cal State Long Beach and Donny Daniels, former assistant at Cal State Fullerton now an assistant at the University of Utah. Walker, using all manner of shots, finished with 33 points.
He swished in long jump shots from three-point range, muscled his way inside and even sneaked behind the Edison defense for a trio of rim-rattling dunks.
His most impressive move was a forceful drive that ended in a left-handed slam over a defender in the game’s final minute. He was fouled and made the free throw.
Coupled with a rejection of Greg Miller’s baseline drive moments earlier, Walker helped Brea avoid the embarrassment of blowing a 15-point first-half lead.
Edison tied the score, 55-55, with 1:54 left, but with Walker’s block as a boost, Brea pulled away for the victory.
“He was a little off tonight,” said Brea Coach Rick Jones, pointing out that Walker shot three airballs. “He’s been playing like a college player the last five games. He’s much stronger than last year. (Another) key is that he’s more patient offensively.
“He’s really self-motivated. He’s been lifting weights on his own. I haven’t had to tell him to do anything.”
In the quarterfinals tonight at 7:30, the Wildcats will have to contend with a St. Monica team Gary McKnight, Mater Dei coach, called one of the best in the Southern Section.
“Their athletic ability took us out of so many things we wanted to do,” McKnight said of St. Monica. “But like I told the players afterwards, I’d rather play a team like that every night, that’s what the summer is for.”
McKnight’s fortunes could grow considerably in the winter with the addition of an impressive sophomore guard named Reggie Geary. Geary did not meet the Southern Section’s residency requirements at Ocean View last season, transferred to Mater Dei and will become eligible in January. He will play on the Monarchs’ junior varsity in December, McKnight said.