AOW: Rivera's play bringing prominence back to ‘Cats

January 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Generally when a high school basketball team gets into crunch time, it looks to one of its senior veterans to carry the squad to victory.

For the Brawley Union High School boys basketball team it's often junior guard Mark Rivera who steps up to the challenge.

That was again the case for the Wildcats last week when they kicked off Imperial Valley League action with two wins.

On Jan. 16, in its much anticipated battle with Calexico High, Brawley ripped through the Bulldogs 61-41. The 20-point victory was led by Rivera's 22-point night.


Rivera continued his offensive dominance Friday, finishing with 15 points and four assists as the Wildcats knocked off defending IVL champion Central Union 58-37.

For the year Rivera has averaged about 13 points and 3.5 assists per game. His play has Brawley leading the IVL pack with a 2-0 record and at the same time has restored some respectability to a Wildcat squad that struggled to an early 7-8 non-league record.

Rivera has taken the responsibility of running the team on the court. That responsibility was instilled in him by coach Phil Grant.

"Mark is basically in charge of running this team. You always want your guards to be an extension of the coach on the floor. And I think he's done a very good job of that."

While he is the leader on the court that doesn't mean he's Brawley's sole weapon. He has shown the ability as a scoring threat but at the same time has proven he's not a shoot-first, pass-second player.

Rivera's passing ability has helped raise his teammates' level of play. At the same time, by helping those around him, his teammates have helped improve Rivera's all-around game.

"We emphasize ball-handling skills and our players distributing the ball," Grant said, adding of Rivera, "He's been able to do that, which has helped the other players get better and that's helping him become a better player as well."

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