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Eagle guard keeps improving with help of teammates

December 31, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

If a person were to ask Southwest High School basketball player Ericka Antunez about the most important part of her game, the person might be surprised by her answer.

She won't say that her outside shot or her defense or any part of her offense is most important. She'll instead point to the players around her and give them the credit for her individual success.

Through the first two games of the Montgomery Invitational in San Diego on Wednesday and Thursday, Antunez's normally reliable shot wasn't there. But in the final two games of the tournament, against Hilltop of Chula Vista on Friday and South Mountain of Phoenix on Saturday, Antunez got everything going, thanks partly to her teammates.

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"Everybody on the team just told me to keep shooting even though I was struggling at first," said the 17-year-old senior. "I wasn't making my shots and I wasn't shooting that good, but it gave me confidence when they were telling me they wanted me to keep shooting. Once I kept shooting I started to find my rhythm."

Against South Mountain and Hilltop, she finished with 18 points in each game and pulled down 10 rebounds against Hilltop. The Eagles took third place in the tournament and Antunez earned all-tournament honors.

"I'm just trying to help the team out however I can. If they need me to score, then I'll score, but I know we have other options on the team that can do it too," said Antunez. "I know that I don't have to do everything by myself. It's a team game. It's not just about one person. Everyone needs to work together to be successful."

Added Eagle coach Ruben Valenzuela: "Ericka is definitely a leader for us. Yes, she scores for us, but she also does a lot of other things that are important. She can get the other girls going and motivate them during the games, which is very important. She is a big part of this team and is very important to what we want to do."

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