Brawley big man taking care of business on inside

December 31, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

During the 1998-99 high school basketball season, the Brawley Union High boys team had a 6-foot-5 Lofton patrolling down low and dominating his competition.

Back then, Jermaine Lofton was one of the best players in the Imperial Valley.

Nowadays there's a new 6-foot-5 Lofton donning the blue and gold, but this time it's Jermaine's younger brother, Lafayette.

Last week at the Montgomery Invitational in San Diego, Lafayette Lofton helped Brawley bounce back from an 0-2 start, leading the team to two straight victories.

On Saturday against Southwest High, Lofton finished with a team-high 11 points in Brawley's 53-32 win over one of its Imperial Valley League rivals.


The night before, the 16-year-old junior had one of his best games of the season, dropping 30 points on Hoover High in the Wildcats' 69-65 overtime victory.

While the Southwest game was a good barometer for Lofton and his teammates, as far as knowing what to expect in the IVL this year, he said the Hoover game meant more to him personally.

"We played them in the Kiwanis tournament and they beat us by a lot. I got hurt in that game and really didn't get to play that much," said Lofton, whose team lost 79-47 to Hoover at the Kiwanis tournament Dec. 22. "After that game they were just talking a lot. So this time, it was like revenge for us."

Lofton scored eight points and pulled down six rebounds in the Wildcats' loss to Montgomery but rebounded with a monster game Thursday against West Hills, finishing with 28 points.

While Lofton has been one of the top scoring threats for Brawley this year, he said when it comes to contributing to the team's cause, scoring isn't the first thing on his mind.

"Whenever I get the ball, I'm not really looking to score, I don't like to do everything by myself," said Lofton. "I mean, if I get the ball, sometimes guys will collapse on me and I'll get double- or triple-teamed. When that happens, I just look for someone else and kick the ball out."

It's that "team-first" attitude that has helped Lofton become an all-around player and has prompted his coaches to ask him to step up and be more of a team leader.

"You know, coach (Phil Grant) wants me to be a leader and asks me to because I'm like the biggest guy out there and there are some of the younger guys that look up to me," he said. "I really don't have a problem with that, I don't feel any pressure on me to be a leader. I know that I am ready to be a leader on this team."

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