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December 18, 2014

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Prep Basketball:

Silverado guard matures on and off court

Senior star learned hard lesson after junior year suspension

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Jummel Hidrosollo / Special to the Home News

Silverado guard James Lata (10) dribbles through a pair of Eldorado defenders Friday night.

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Silverado guard James Lata (10) leaps toward the basket against Eldorado Friday night.

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Silverado basketball player James Lata is out to make amends for his mistake.

The senior guard was unable to participate in last year's playoffs after being suspended for throwing a weight at a classmate during a physical education class, he said.

He regrets letting his emotions get the better of him and not being there for his teammates as the Skyhawks lost in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals to Eldorado.

Now, with a more mature attitude, as well as an 18 points per game average, Lata has helped the 'Hawks to a 16-3 overall and 4-0 Southeast division record to put them in position to return to the playoffs. A victory tonight against rival Foothill (11-6, 4-0) would certainly boost Silverado's quest for a league title.

"It was a stupid thing for me to do, and it's kind of embarrassing to think about now," Lata said. "It was so tough watching (the Eldorado game) from the crowd. I'm just thankful that was my junior year and that I have another shot to make it up to my team this year."

Silverado coach Ron Childress said Lata has been a model citizen this season both on and off the court.

"James has done some big time growing up," Childress said. "He does everything that's asked of him. He listens well and uses what he learns. He's playing real good ball right now, but he still has more to come."

Lata dedicated himself to practicing this past summer to prepare for his senior year. The work showed during the Pahrump Valley Cage Classic, where Lata averaged 22 points per game to win the tournament's Most Valuable Player award.

"I didn't realize how well I was doing until the tournament was over," Lata said. "I was trying to make myself relax and help us win. I wasn't trying to put up crazy numbers or anything. It's nice, but all that matters is that we get the win."

With teammates like Wade Collie and Ali Sabra consistently averaging over 15 points per game, Lata said he has reaped the benefits of the double coverage they often draw.

Even with Collie out with a knee injury, Lata has proven to be a problem for defenders. He had a game-high 26 points in a 90-70 win over Del Sol on Saturday to keep the Skyhawks undefeated in the Southeast Division.

"James' contributions to this team have been astronomical," Childress said. "He may have been overlooked before, but now people are taking notice. He's a quiet assassin on the court — he really doesn't talk a lot — but he's strong and has a good shot. I don't think even he knows how good he can be."

Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].

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