Brandon Lewis inherited his penchant for the three-point shot from his father, a former college player who taught him the game. But for all the countless hours he has spent lofting basketballs through his home hoop, the Laguna forward never imagined he would be chasing the team record for three pointers made in a single season. “I knew I had it in me, but I couldn’t have foreseen this,” he said.
Last season, the lanky junior began to find his range from behind the arc when he led the Breakers with 40 three pointers, playing in only 21 of his team’s 27 games. Through Laguna’s first 16 games this year, he already has 49. The difference is a little more practice and a lot more confidence. Last year, “if he’d miss one or two, then he’d stop shooting,” said Coach Bret Fleming.
Now, if Lewis misses a couple, he shakes it off and shoots himself back into form. “Even on an off day, the best shooters can go one for 20 and then come back and go eight for eight,” Lewis said. “You’ve just got to shoot your shot when it’s open.”
So far, most opposing defenses haven’t taken his talents very seriously. “There’s been games that he’s had five threes, and he’s still open on the next one,” said Fleming in disbelief.
Lewis averages three threes a game and is currently ranked third in the county. The Breakers’ record for threes was set by Travis Hanour’s 80 in 2000.
Lewis is well aware he’s on pace to eclipse Hanour, but knows not to get too wrapped up in the pursuit. “Ambition sometimes kills your goals,” he said. “I’m not going to try to be too ambitious, but I’m going for it.”
Fleming has plays designed to get Lewis open looks on the perimeter, where the 6-3 senior does the bulk of his scoring. “My teammates set some pretty good screens,” said Lewis, who likes to catch the ball and shoot before the defense can react.
But Lewis doesn’t force the issue if the open shot isn’t there. “He rarely takes a contested three,” said Fleming. “If it’s not available on the catch, he passes.”
Even knowing he will need to take as many shots as possible to get the record, Lewis will never be called a ball hog. He’s usually quite the opposite. “Before this year, [Fleming] used to get mad at me for not shooting,” said Lewis.
“That’s not something I have to worry about with Brandon,” said Fleming. “He’s a kid that’s always played within the team concept.”
“I’m going to do what it takes to win before I’m going to go for a record,” said Lewis “I’ll take records as they come, but team is number one.”
When he’s hot, Lewis can carry a team. In the season-opening Godinez Tournament, he averaged 17 points a game, hitting 21 threes in five games over five days, including a buzzer-beater from behind the arc in the tournament opener to beat Western.
His 27 points against North Torrance in Laguna’s fifth game is a team high this season and included six three-pointers, only two off the school’s single-game record of eight, which is certainly within range if Lewis gets a hot hand. He usually knows right away when he is going to have nights like that. “From the first shot [in warm ups], I can just tell how it comes off my hands, how it looks, how it feels, whether it’s going to be a good night,” he said.
Brandon Lewis’ hot hand at three point shooting is on pace to set a new record this season. Photo by Robert Campbell.