It doesn’t matter whether the subject is boys basketball or girls. If the question is “who owns the Laguna Beach High School record for most 3-pointers made in a single season?” The answer is Lewis. As in Brandon and Alexandra.
Brandon set the boys mark of 85 in 2012, and his sister Alex just last week broke Tess Grogan’s six-year-old total of 42 set in ’08.
“It was kind of a little bit of a relief,” said the sophomore forward, who admits she put undue pressure on herself leading up to the game against Costa Mesa on Jan. 28, when she hit three 3-pointers to help Laguna beat their league rival and push her season total to 44.
“She did it within the context of the offense, and that’s the best time to get it,” said Laguna girls coach Mark Lewis, who has been his daughter’s coach since her days at Laguna’s Boys and Girls Club, where the kindergartner first began to find her shooting touch.
“When I’m on the court, I don’t think of him as my dad,” said Alex. “He’s my coach and I’m his player.”
Lewis was also courtside when Brandon broke Travis Hanour’s record of 80 set in ’00. It was senior night; the final game of the regular season, and Lewis was at the microphone calling the shots. Well aware that Brandon was chasing the record, an excited crowd cheered every time the senior launched the ball. “That was just a real joy for me to be a part of all that,” recalled the proud father.
Lewis spent countless hours as a kid, practicing on a hoop attached to his parent’s garage at the top of a long sloping driveway. Standing at the bottom of the driveway, the hoop was several feet higher that normal, so Lewis had to launch the ball extra high to get it to the rim.
Before long, he developed the high arcing shot and smooth stroke that earned him the nickname “Sweet Lew” in college. If the three-point line had been around when he was playing, he might have his own high school record on the books.
As a young father of two, Lewis put up a hoop at the top of his own sloping driveway and began to school his kids on the proper mechanics of a jump shot. Soon Brandon and Alex began to develop high arcing jumpers of their own. “She had a very good starting point,” said Lewis, recalling his daughter’s natural ability at a young age. “That was an easy thing to work with.”
Alex and her father spend hours at home and at the gym after practice refining her stroke. “I really love the game, so I enjoy being in there just trying to get better,” she said.
“She has a really good looking shot,” said Brandon, who believes that being a good shooter is “something you work for. It’s not something that’s given to you,” and “it’s definitely something she’s worked for.”
All 3-point shooters have those days when everything they toss up goes in. “It’s really a cool experience,” said Alex. “Nothing like it.”
She had one of those days in the opener of the MaxPreps Holiday Tournament against Shadow Hills (Indio) the day after Christmas, when she scored a career high 24 points, including six 3-pointers to break Lola Cowie’s (’13) single-game school record of five. Alex also finished second in a 3-point shooting contest at the end of that four-day tournament.
There are also times when the hoop seems to have a lid on it, as was the case against Estancia last Friday, two days after she set the season record for 3s against Costa Mesa. She finished that game scoreless for only the third time in her 45-game career up to that point, going 0 for 7 from the field. “You have to let it go,” she said of those bad days.
It takes a certain mentality to keep putting up shots, even when they aren’t finding the bottom of the net, according to Lewis. “If you’re a shooter, the next one you put up is the one that’s going in,” he said.
And when their shots aren’t falling, Lewis tells all his players, including Alex, to do other things. Fight for a rebound. Get a steal. Hustle for a loose ball. “No one can take away your effort, your energy, your defense,” he said.
Even with a bad game here and there, Alex seems like a lock to add the career record to her game and season marks. She has 76 3-pointers in less than two full years, just 12 shy of the 88 Grogan accumulated over three seasons (2005, 06, 08).
Frank Aronoff contributed to this story.