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SOUPING UP CAMPBELL HALL

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Robert Locke and Derrick Williams have yet to attend a high school class, but they have already made strides with the Campbell Hall basketball team.

The 6-foot-1 Locke and 6-3 Williams, both 14, are playing with the Vikings during the summer season, including the War on the Floor tournament this week at Pierce College. They are adjusting to the varsity level, but have displayed promise and gained respect from their teammates.

“I started realizing how good they were when I started watching them in all-star competitions,” Coach Brian Haloossim of Campbell Hall said. “I went and supported them a couple times, and watched them play against some national powers at the 14-and-under level, and these two kids were scoring 30-35 points a game, and with some poise.”

During summer play, Haloossim frequently changes his starting lineup to give everyone playing time and develop younger players. Although the Vikings return four starters, Haloossim says the freshmen are fighting for starting spots.

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The Vikings lost to Harvard-Westlake, 60-57, on Tuesday. Locke played most of the game and made his share of miscues, but he scored nine points, including a three-point basket late in the game to tie the score, 52-52.

“Robert is really under control, which minimizes turnovers, which makes him a seasoned kid,” Haloossim said. “He’s exceptionally fast and has great ball-handling skills, and can shoot. He’s unafraid and he’s willing to mix it up with anybody.”

Williams played sparingly on Tuesday, scoring three points, but he scored 17 in his first summer game.

Haloossim expects Williams to add versatility to the team because he can play any position.

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“He’s extremely athletic,” Haloossim said. “He can rebound with anybody, he’s very strong on the boards and he has a lot of speed and quickness. And he knows how to score. That’s his biggest attribute. He can shoot, play the post and he’s a great finisher on the break.”

Locke and Williams are playing on a 14-and-under all-star team that will compete in a national tournament July 1-10 in Orlando, Fla.

Despite their status as varsity athletes, the two freshmen were not exempt from special treatment by their older Campbell Hall teammates.

“At first, they started picking on us,” Williams said. “They’d hit me the hardest in practice. But it’s OK now.”

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Locke added that it was for their own benefit.

“They try to see how tough you are, because if you can take that in practice, you can take that in any of the games,” Locke said.

“So they’re just preparing us for what could happen in the games.”

Senior guard Hassan Bassiri, who led the Vikings with 35 points on Tuesday, says the freshmen are in the midst of a sizable transition.

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“It is a big step, because as a whole, I think the team is on the rise this year,” Bassiri said.

“They have pressure coming in, but pretty soon that’s going to go away, because we’re going to jell. And when we do that, we’re going to be tough do beat, and there won’t be any pressure on anybody.”

The Vikings reached the Southern Section Division V-AA quarterfinals last season. The addition of Locke and Williams and senior transfer Jarel Hall of Birmingham have given the team championship aspirations.

Hall should improve Campbell Hall’s front-line play. He nearly averaged a double-double last season, with 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds.

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“These kids are coming into a team that is very talented,” Haloossim said. “Four kids are being recruited by Division I schools. Every game, a different kid can stand out on this team.

“This is going to be one of the best teams we’ve ever had. We have a chance to win [the section title].”


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