BASKETBALL: Perez shoots for angel numbers, hits 1,000 points

Granite Hills senior Angel Perez is only the fourth student in school history to score 1,000 points in his varsity basketball career

PORTERVILLE – Hours of work in the gym have paid off for Granite Hills senior Angel Perez as he finished his final season of basketball with 1,062 career points.

Angel Perez made history this basketball season as the fourth Granite Hills student to score 1,000 points in his high school career. He credits his coach, Bud Luther, support from his teammates and a true passion for the game for getting him to the milestone. As a freshman, Perez recorded 27 points in an entire season. Now in his senior year, he averages almost that many in a single game. He hit 1,000 points on Feb. 9, when Granite Hills beat Orange Cove in their final league game.

“Basketball to me is not just basketball,” Perez said. “It’s more than basketball. Basketball takes all my problems away from me. I feel like I’m free. I’m just being me.”

According to Perez, the secret to scoring 1,000 points in four years is “just shooting.” Every chance he gets, Perez is in the gym practicing his 3-point shots, layups and free throws. He’s there before school, after practice and sometimes late into the night. Not just during basketball season either, Perez plays whenever and wherever he can.

“He just plays with such fire and such heart,” Luther said. “He’s on another level of how hard he plays.”

Perez didn’t grow up on the basketball court or have a ball in his hands since birth like some great athletes. He found his passion in seventh grade when he joined the middle school basketball team. It wasn’t a talent that came naturally for Perez, but a skill that he developed through hard work.

Though he joined the team as a freshman, he didn’t develop into the shooting machine he is today until a few years later. During his sophomore year, the season was shortened due to Covid-19 and he only played in nine games. With all the free time, he committed to becoming the best player he could. The summer between his sophomore and junior year, he would come in every day just to practice shooting.

“[Luther] stayed for like eight hours a day of just me shooting,” Perez said. “He stayed all summer with me and taught me how to shoot, layups, everything.”

Perez went from 48 points his sophomore year, to 295 his junior year. He credits the jump to all the work he put in practicing hit shots and hitting the weight room. In his senior season, Perez averaged 24 points per game, scoring 692 points in just one season. He made 48% of his field goal attempts and 37% of his 3-point attempts.

Any player that averages the kind of points that Perez averages is going to be noticed by other teams. During any given game, opponents will try to box Perez into corners or double-team him to try and stop him from shooting his lethal 3-pointers. Despite those challenges, he remains consistent. The rest of the Grizzlies have learned to help Perez get open by screening for him and he credits his teammates for helping him reach his point goals.

On and off the court, Perez is the team leader. He’s the team captain and is known to be very reliable and well-respected by both peers and teachers. When Luther needs to get in contact with someone on the team that he can’t reach, they’ll answer if Perez calls. He makes good grades and enjoys math, but his favorite class will always be gym class because that’s when he gets to practice shooting.

“He’s just somebody you’re happy to have coached,” Luther said. “He’s the type of kid that you ask to help with things and he’ll do anything to help.”

With Perez leading the team in points, the Grizzlies finished the season with a record of 19-10. They took second place in the East Sequoia League and were the second seed in the Division V playoff bracket. Unfortunately, Perez suffered a shoulder injury before their quarterfinal game against McFarland on Feb. 17 and the Grizzlies lost 55-52 and were eliminated. Even with an injury, Perez still scored 27 points in the final game of his high school career. He has a total of 1,062 points.

As a senior, Perez has to make a decision about whether he will continue playing basketball in college. He’s already decided to attend Porterville College next fall, but hasn’t made up his mind about playing basketball at the next level. He’s been completely focused on his senior season since it began, but now that it’s over, he’ll have some time to think about the future. Regardless of whether he decides to play basketball in college, he knows what his plans are for the rest of his life.

“I want to major in kinesiology and become a PE teacher,” Perez said. “I want to come back here.”

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