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Notes: AAU games fuel Clark’s James Bridges for Bishop Gorman rematch

Most of the AAU players will be flying out when their team’s tournament play ends, but Las Vegas Knicks shooting guard James Bridges is looking to use his experience to help Clark High School win a state championship this upcoming season.

After scoring nine points in the Knicks’ 84-52 victory over IEBP Blue (California) on Friday, Bridges talked about what’s been motivating him throughout the Adidas Summer Championships at Cashman Center.

“I’ve been using these games to try and get back at (Bishop) Gorman for this last state championship,” Bridges said, referring to the February state title game in which the Chargers blew an eight-point lead in the final 1 minute, 40 seconds to lose to Gorman.

The 6-foot-4-inch Bridges, known as one of Southern Nevada’s top shooters, said he’s been focusing on rebounding during the Adidas tournament while also working on a new offensive weapon.

“I’ve been really focusing on that one dribble pull-up,” he said. “I really want to start to develop that because I’m known as a shooter. If I get the guy up in the air and I have that one dribble pull-up, it’s good.”

Bridges, a two-star recruit, has scholarship offers from Cal State Northridge, Eastern Kentucky, Idaho State and Portland, and is receiving heavy interest from Ivy League schools.

Here’s the thing: he’s not your typical high-schooler.

“Some kids can’t hold a conversation,” Clark High coach Chad Beeten said. “But James is off the charts mature. He’s so focused on finding the right athletic and academic school. He’s in no rush.”

Beeten said Bridges has never has gotten a ‘B’ grade in school and owns a 4.7 GPA.

On the court, he knows the road goes through Gorman, and he’s already got those games etched in his mind.

“I can’t wait to get them those two times,” Bridges said.

LaVar Ball simmers down

After the controversy surrounding LaVar Ball on Friday, his AAU team’s games Saturday went on as normal as a game featuring the large personality could.

Big Baller Brand picked up a 90-87 victory over the Riverside Hawks (California) in their early game, but fell 116-95 in the nightcap against Team Lillard at Canyon Springs High School.

This all came after a tumultuous Friday. Ball made national news by refusing to continue play after receiving a technical foul from a female referee and demanding she be removed.

Ball reportedly said “she’s gotta go” during the game, and added she should “stay in her lane” after the game. A report by ESPN said that Adidas officials told referees to avoid calling fouls against Ball because of his value to the tournament.

When reached Saturday, a spokesperson for Adidas declined comment, but said a meeting was held Saturday morning and issuing a statement was being discussed.

Local spotlight

Culen Highbe’s AAU team is quite a bit different from his high school team.

That’s not to take anything away from Pahranagat Valley, which reached the Class 1A state title game last season. But the 6-9 senior is used to being the star, and on the Las Vegas Prospects, he’s another cog in the machine.

At Pahranagat Valley, Highbe is the only player taller than 6-6. On the Prospects, he has to compete for playing time.

The big man hopes that playing up a level improves his game and leads to an outlet for college.

“(The game’s) a little more fast-paced, and more size than the lower division,” Highbe said. “It’s a lot more competitive and you learn a lot more when you’re playing with a lot better players, especially at this high of a level.”

In the stands

Three-time NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson, a Seattle native, took in the Seattle Rotary-Oakland Soldiers AAU game of the Las Vegas Classic at Spring Valley High. Robinson was very animated and enthusiastic sitting next to college coaches on the baseline.

Quote of the day

“I like what UNLV fans will bring to our gym. That’ll be nice to see for Jalen (Hill) and Trey (Woodbury). … It’s a logical fit. Clark is one of the original six or seven schools in the valley. The school was good way back in the day, and now we’re back. And we’d love to have more of that connection.”

— Clark boys basketball coach Chad Beeten on UNLV targeting a few of his players

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