Muir Gets Good Mileage From This Import

Times Staff Writer

The phone call comes every Sunday morning at 11, and it’s difficult to say who’s more excited, Dionne Pounds or her father, Larry.

It’s not an inexpensive call because Larry Pounds still lives in Finland, while his daughter is in Altadena, living with her grandmother and aunt, Larry’s mother and sister.

Dionne, 18, is getting a taste of American basketball at Pasadena Muir High, where she is spending her senior year.


“I like it here,” she said. “It’s better than I expected.”

The level of basketball is also better than she expected. The only thing the 5-foot-8 forward knew of American basketball was what she had seen of the college women’s game on TV.

“I thought the high school players were a little worse [than they are] because you don’t see freshmen playing good in college straight out of high school,” she said.

Dionne hopes to be the exception when she graduates in June.

“I wanted to play basketball and decided [coming to the United States] would be a good opportunity,” she said. “I want to play college basketball in the States.”

Pounds has had no trouble fitting in at Muir (8-3), which is ranked No. 20 by The Times.

“She’s a great leader,” Coach Larry Cash said of Pounds. “She doesn’t like the spotlight, but when we need a drive to the basket, she takes it.... She’s definitely my best shooter.

“Dionne is definitely more experienced and more mature than my other players. She has more finesse.”

Muir has only three seniors on its roster, so Pounds brings plenty to the program.

“She has a strong desire to win, a fantastic personality and attitude,” said Cash, whose team also features sophomores Tierra Henderson and Porsha Large.


A product of Finland’s Junior National program, Pounds is averaging 20 points and five rebounds. She is shooting 46% from the field and over 50% from three-point range.

Dionne also played club basketball in her homeland, and one of her coaches was her father, who graduated from Pasadena Blair in 1971 and then the University of Washington.

A 6-7 forward, Larry Pounds was drafted by the Golden State Warriors, but spent a year on injured reserve before playing professionally in Finland, the Philippines and Mexico. He won championships in all three countries, including four in 14 years in Finland.

He was awarded Finnish citizenship in 1988, then retired in 1994 as the country’s third-leading all-time scorer.

The family lives in Kotka, a city of about 58,000 located 90 miles east of Helsinki. Since retirement, Pounds has continued to coach club basketball.

“Believe me, it’s very difficult,” he said of being apart from his daughter, the oldest of three children. “She’s more or less on her own, taking care of a lot of things on her own....


“It’s going very well. She’s pretty disciplined. She’s growing as a person. When she comes back, she won’t be our little daughter, she’ll be a young lady.”


Judith Smith of Long Beach Poly has been one of the outstanding players in the Southland, but when she was late for a team meeting before the Ayala Best of the West championship game against Redondo, she had to pay the price.

She had to sit down.

Her teammates responded, building a 10-2 lead before Smith rejoined them for the second quarter of a 55-42 victory.

“When [our record was] 8-2, we talked about the positive things on our team -- showing a lot of fight and spirit, and Judith stepping up,” said Coach Carl Buggs, whose fourth-ranked Jackrabbits are 11-2.

“But I asked them, ‘What if Judith gets hurt? Are you going to panic or step up?’

“[Against Redondo] they all raised their game.”

Undersized post players, Rosalyn Omoruyi (5-9) and Natasha Gray (5-10), limited Redondo’s 6-3 post players Brittany Grice and Chloe Grimm to two offensive rebounds between them.

Poly certainly got the attention of Redondo Coach Marcelo Enriquez, whose team has defeated No. 3 San Clemente, No. 7 Eisenhower, No. 9 Long Beach Wilson, No. 17 Artesia and No. 19 Corona Centennial.


“They’re deceiving,” Enriquez said. “You can’t judge their quickness until you play them.

“They’re the quickest team we’ve faced all year.”


The third-place showdown between Jenna Sybesma of Corona Centennial and Brynn Cameron of Newbury Park, two of the best players from their regions, failed to take place last week when Newbury Park had to forfeit the Anaheim Canyon tournament game after its bus broke down.

Stranded in Irwindale for 90 minutes, the Panthers were still more than an hour away from the site when a second bus arrived just 30 minutes before the scheduled tipoff.

“First time in 29 years that we’ve had to forfeit a game,” said Coach Nori Parvin, whose team is 6-6. “Next year we’re going to try to schedule a nonleague game with them. I was looking forward to it.”


Lynwood’s average margin of victory was 21.6 points at the Energy Classic in Gillette, Wyo., where the Knights’ closest game was against nationally ranked host Gillette Campbell County, 74-60.... Los Alamitos’ Stephanie Duda averaged 31.6 points the last five games, which includes four against teams with a combined record of 37-8.... Randalina Robinson of L.A. University scored 38 points in her team’s 46-42 loss to Corona del Mar. She also had 22 rebounds.