For Dylan Garrity, his game has always centered around a pass-first mentality.
That's a major part of a work ethic the Edison High senior has brought to the basketball court, where he has carved out a highly successful prep career. And the 6-foot-1 point guard, who captains the Chargers, is still adding to his résumé.
"As far back as I can remember, I've always had that mentality," said the 18-year-old. "Pass-first is definitely something I've done my entire life. Every coach I've ever played for, at any level, has told me that I don't shoot enough. I've just always enjoyed helping out my teammates."
That unselfish attitude has benefitted Garrity in several ways, one of which recently put him into the school's basketball record book.
Garrity last week passed Eric Ferraro as the school's career assists leader. It happened Dec. 23, the day Edison defeated Tustin at the North/South Challenge. Ferraro had set the new standard of 376 assists in 2009.
After Tuesday's 65-46 nonleague win over Calvary Chapel, Garrity, who played in his 100th career varsity game and scored a career-high 34 points, now has 396 career assists heading into Friday's Sunset League opener against Fountain Valley.
Ferraro, in turn, passed along a congratulatory note to his successor.
Garrity, 18, was grateful for the gesture, and mindful of the guiding hand Ferraro provided him with when he was a raw freshman new to the varsity team.
"Eric sent me a really nice message on Facebook, congratulating me on setting the record," Garrity said. "That was really great of him.
"Eric was a senior on the team when I was just a freshman and he showed me the ropes. When I came out as a freshman I didn't know much, especially about offenses. Eric stayed around after practices and would help me out, help me learn how things worked. I owe a lot to him for that."
Garrity seemed to catch on to things right away. Since he entered the starting lineup toward the end of his freshman year, he has been All-Sunset League both his sophomore and junior years, has been All-CIF two years running and as a junior last year, was All-State.
"The summer of his freshman year, Dylan was playing with the JV team and when I saw him and saw what he could do, I realized he belonged on varsity and immediately moved him up," Edison Coach Rich Boyce said. "He had great instincts and knew how to play the game.
"He's always had leadership skills but this year, those leadership skills are really starting to show. Scoring might look like it comes easily for him, but he has always, always, been more concerned about putting the team first."
Garrity, who said he has become more vocal this year as a leader, adding that it's "something that is new to me," has been on a roll this season. He has been named tournament MVP in all three tournaments (La Quinta, Irvine World News Gary Raya Classic, Desert Heat Invitational) the Chargers have competed in and won. In the championship game at the Desert Heat Invitational on Dec. 30, Garrity was double-teamed but still managed 19 points en route to most valuable player honors after the Chargers downed Simi Valley.
He also was named game MVP after scoring 23 points against Tustin in a 48-36 victory by the Chargers at the North/South Challenge Dec. 23 at El Toro High.
In 15 games, he's averaged 22 points and 3.5 assists an outing. At the midway point of the season, he now has 1,465 career points and is in line to break the school record for career points (1,686) set last year by Kyle Boswell.
Garrity is part of an Edison team that prides itself on tough defense and has rocketed to a 15-0 start to the season, which is a school record. He also was part of the previous record-holding team that started the 2009-2010 campaign 14-0.
Dating back to last season, Edison has won the last six tournaments it has entered.
Two of the Chargers 15 victories this year have come in close tournament games against Sunset League rivals Huntington Beach and Marina.
Fabian Luna's Huntington Beach squad will face the Chargers and Garrity twice more in league play, the first showdown coming Wednesday at Huntington.
"Dylan is a great young man who also happens to be a heck of a ballplayer," Luna said of Garrity, who dropped four three-pointers and 24 points in a 66-57 win over the Oilers — Huntington's first loss — in the championship game of the La Quinta Tournament on Dec. 11. "I love the way that kid competes. He is a special talent."
Garrity's abilities, coupled with his red-hot start to his senior year, has caught the attention of several schools. He said he has been recruited by several NAIA schools including Concordia, Biola and Azusa Pacific, and Division 1 schools St. Mary's, the University of San Diego and UC Irvine.
"I haven't made a commitment yet," he said. "I'm waiting for the right fit."
This year, he and fellow senior guards Tyler Fields and Shane Osaki are the three returning players from last year's team that finished second in the Sunset League. This year's Chargers, Garrity said, have a special bond.
"I'd say the key to our success so far has been that all the players on this team have been best friends for a long time, from NJB through middle school," said Garrity, who was home-schooled in sixth and seventh grade and went to Dwyer Middle School for his eighth-grade year and helped the Jr. Oilers win a championship in basketball.
"A lot of these guys went to Sowers when I played at Dwyer. They played together as freshmen here at Edison and went 10-0 and won league and then played again together on JV.
"The bond of being friends has really helped. We can pretty much have a player step in and step up, if another is having an off-game. That's a great thing for a team to have."
One newcomer to this year's team is Dreon Barlett, a junior guard and transfer from Bolsa Grande. Garrity took the time a few months back to help Barlett make the adjustment to his surroundings, remembering the time when he had first set foot into a new program.
"I would stay after practice with Dreon and go over plays with him, try to help him out," he said. "Eric (Ferraro) did it for me, and I remembered that. I try to encourage my teammates as best I can."
Make that another assist for Dylan Garrity.