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Southwest's Rodriguez gets game going

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK:

June 18, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

The transition from playing freshman sports to varsity in one year can be quite overwhelming for some high school athletes.

Some adjust and make the best of their situations, others simply fall victim to the pressures of performing on the highest high school level.

For Southwest High School basketball player Krystal Rodriguez, going from competing on the freshman squad to playing varsity her sophomore year was a mix of both.

Although she was moved to the varsity team because she was good, the airballs she shot proved she hadn't quite grasped the varsity game yet and was a little out of place.

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A few months removed from her last regular season high school game, Rodriguez has improved so much that Eagle coach Ruben Valenzuela is ready to throw her into the starting lineup as the team's shooting guard this coming season.

The 16-year-old soon-to-be junior proved her worth in the Sycuan Casino Best of San Diego basketball tournament this weekend when she averaged more than 10 points in each of three games.

"I think last year when I would play I was just getting nervous out there. I would get the ball and throw up an airball, then I wouldn't want to shoot anymore," said Rodriguez. "But Coach told me that if I wanted to keep this spot that I had to keep shooting. Now, once I get the ball I'm looking to shoot first instead of just passing the ball."

At the Sycuan tournament, against Marian on Friday, Rodriguez scored 14 points and pulled down three rebounds. She followed that Saturday with an eight-point effort against Valhalla and a nine-point game against Clairemont.

"I'm very comfortable with having her out there as long as her confidence keeps building," said Valenzuela. "When she shoots with confidence, she shoots very well. And I feel that she has a very strong mid-range jumper that will help us out a lot.

"This coming year, we're not going to be as one-dimensional as we have been. We're going to have a few other girls we'll be looking to," said Valenzuela. "Having Krystal out there makes us a better team. I just hope she continues to improve. If she continues to improve then I'm really looking forward to what this season has to offer."

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