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Team success is Mater Dei guard's goal

12/13/2012, 9:15pm PST
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

Lusain loads up on assists, rebounds, passing and wins.


Point guard Brittani Lusain has been a four-year starter for Mater Dei Catholic.

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— You look at Brittani Lusain’s scoring line each week and it’s easy to be unimpressed with the Mater Dei Catholic point guard.

Scoring eight points a game doesn’t even make the U-T standard of 10 or more to be reported.

To stop there would be a big mistake, because Lusain, the 17-year-old senior headed to Northern Arizona University on a basketball scholarship, doesn’t score a lot because it’s well down the list of her priorities.

“Getting the ball to a teammate for a high percentage shot is more important than shooting,” said the 5-foot-8 four-year starter, who averages eight assists a game.

“Going inside and getting a rebound is more important than scoring. Playing defense is even more important than scoring to me. But if I’m left unguarded or have a high percentage shot, I won’t hesitate to shoot.”

Let’s see, eight points a game plus eight assists means at least 16 more points for a total of 24. Grabbing a rebound not only could lead to points from a teammate, it denies the opposition a chance to score. Playing nails defensively does the same.

So the score book figure is highly deceiving.

Teammate Alexandria Young, one of the main recipients of Lusain’s accurate passing, knows and has been since the two were seven.

“We’ve played for as long as I remember,” said Young, who will be attending the University of San Diego. “She’s just a great point guard. She will look away from me and that’s when I know to be ready to get the ball. She’s very deceptive.”

Coach David Monroe sees other qualities.

“What’s most impressive about Brittani is her leadership on the court — she’s the general out there,” says Monroe, who first discovered her as a 7-year-old who came to Encanto Recreation Center to learn karate and just sort of gravitated to the basketball court.

“She’s the best passer on the team so she makes the other girls look better. She came in with those skills but she has just gotten better and better and she’s just more determined now. She’s always been competitive. She’s quiet and you have to listen carefully to her questions because sometimes she’ll come up with a new idea.”

Lusain herself says, “I love playmaking, always have. To make myself better I practiced with a tennis ball and darkened goggles which allowed me to focus more, to make everything more instinctive.”

Not naturally ambidextrous, on the court she can handle the ball with either hand equally well and go right or left without hesitation.

Add to that a 3.6 grade-point average and a 1,600-plus SAT score. At Northern Arizona she plans to get the groundwork out of the way to become a veterinarian.

As for why she’s attending the private high school, Lusain says she, Young and Cardedra Evans, who has since graduated, decided to go to Mater Dei while in junior high.

Since then the Crusaders have been almost as successful as the group that preceded them. Almost.

That group captured a state title in 2008-09, something of which the current players are reminded daily when they enter the gym and look at the oversized banner on the wall.

“It has been a little frustrating because we’ve always run up against some of the best teams in the county (La Jolla Country Day and Bishop’s),” said Lusain, noting that this year’s team has the players to take that trip to the state championships.

“We want our own big banner.”

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