Having been accustomed to being one of the top scoring threats for the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team and in the Pacific League the past two seasons, Christian Misi saw his responsibilities change entering this season.
It wasn't a complete shock for the senior post player, who had put up quality numbers across the board last season on a team steeped in tradition. In the long run, the idea was designed to help Misi prepare for his collegiate career at Cal Baptist University in Riverside.
"I'm not scoring as much as last year, but it's still been a good year for me so far," said Misi, who is averaging 15.6 and 10.8 rebounds per game through Friday. "So, now I'm helping out in other ways, like grabbing more rebounds and focusing more on defense.
"[Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian] told me about it last summer and he thought it would help me improve my overall game. I'm starting to see the results."
Misi enjoyed a banner campaign last season. He was tabbed the league's co-most valuable player and earned a spot on the All-CIF Southern Section Division I-A first team after averaging 18.5 points and 11 rebounds per game and helping the Falcons place second in league behind Pasadena. His numbers paved the way for him to earn a spot on the All-Area first team.
This season, Misi and Falcons have put themselves in position to challenge for the league championship, once again. With Misi in the process of refining his game, the Falcons are 15-3, 4-1 in league and are ranked sixth in the latest division poll entering today's league home contest against Muir.
"I've been working a lot more on my defense and guarding the perimeter," said Misi, who had 27 points and 15 rebounds to help the Falcons post a 67-60 victory against Silverado (Nev.) in a pool-play contest of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic at Cathedral City High on Dec. 27. "My rebounding has gotten a lot better on both ends.
"I've been able to crash the boards and get us more possessions."
It's translated into plenty of victories for the Falcons.
Zargarian said Misi, flanked by senior forwards Davis Dragovich and Rudy Avila to provide a bevy of points and rebounds, has provided a presence on both ends of the court.
"He's vocal and he sounds like a four-year varsity player with strong leadership skills," Zargarian said. "We've been stressing to him not to put pressure on himself and not do anything out of the ordinary.
"He's already been an MVP of the league and he's accomplished a lot. The game against Silverado was old school. We like where he is in being able to do a lot of things. He's just got to keep on playing his game."
In a league game against host Hoover on Wednesday, Misi recorded a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds to spark the Falcons to a 55-33 win.
It's marks like those that help the Falcons thrive, Crescenta Valley senior guard Dylan Kilgour said.
"He's good at everything he does and his rebounding has gotten a lot better," Kilgour said. "You see him making better decisions and he can still make that mid-range shot when he needs to.
"He's also looking more to pass the ball and not force shots."
Misi said he encountered a brief slump in the middle of December, when the Falcons competed in the San Fernando Valley Invitational. The Falcons still won their share of games, but Misi felt he needed to contribute more to help set them up for league.
Once the holiday season concluded, Misi regrouped.
"I knew I had to get back in a flow," Misi said. "I had that little slump where my shots were going in and out.
"It wasn't for a lack of effort. I just suffered a little bit. Thankfully, we have an experienced team and we've known each other for a long time. We trust each other's games and we are comfortable out on the court."
For Misi, it's about having an energizing effect to make Crescenta Valley a better all-around team on both ends of the court.