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PIZZA-FREE DIET, EXERCISE LIGHTENS SENIOR'S STEP : WILLIAMS LEADS A.V. IN SCORING.

Byline: Robert Rundquist Special to the Daily News

Ziaire Williams hasn't had a Whopper in a year.

The 6-foot-4-inch senior shooting guard and small forward from Antelope Valley High School adhered to a strict diet during the off-season. No more hamburgers, burritos, tacos or pizza. He added a workout routine that helped him lose more than 30 pounds and become one of the best leapers in the Golden League.

``I stopped eating red meat, lifted weights everyday and played basketball everyday on teams or in the park,'' Williams said. ``All the hard work paid off. I can run harder and jump higher.''

Williams leads the No. 2 Antelopes (19-6, 7-0) in scoring with 18 points per game entering tonight's game at Palmdale that could decide the Golden League title. Antelope Valley has already clinched at least a share of first place with the Falcons.

``Dunking is my favorite thing to do, especially dunking on people,'' he said. ``I probably had only one dunk last season, and this year I have around 60.''

At his current weight of 180 pounds, Williams' athleticism is drawing attention from opponents and his coach, who praises the player's incredible work ethic before and during the season.

``His work ethic went from a C-minus to an A,'' said coach Tom Mahan. ``When we finished the summer, I told people that he was my best athlete and people were surprised. They aren't surprised now.''

At his bulkier weight of 215 in his junior season, Williams felt that he was too heavy, and his weight was slowing him down. This season, however, the goal of most opponents is to keep the quick leaper as far away from the hoop as possible.

When asked if Williams thought there was anyone in the Golden League who could challenge his leaping ability, he replied with confidence.

``I haven't seen anyone yet.''

Even Mahan, who is reserved when talking about his own players, feels the abilities of the ``new'' Williams are something special.

``He's always been a pretty good jumper. Now he's an incredible jumper, and his coordination above the rim is pretty impressive,'' explained Mahan. ``He comes in on one leg or both. He'll squat and all of a sudden he's way up there. He can play as well above the rim as any player I've ever had.''

Even with his new success, Williams remains focused on the most important thing: winning. The dunks may be the most noticeable part of his transformation, but coach Mahan loves his mature perspective on what really counts.

``This year he's come out and said, `the bottom line is winning.' He's had games without many points, but he doesn't care.''

The importance of just being dedicated to a goal has not been lost on Williams, who feels his new work ethic and determination will allow him to soar off the court as well.

``(The results) taught me if you work hard, in no matter what, your job, basketball or school, it will pay off.''

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: A lifestyle change has added speed and agility to the game of the Antelopes' Ziaire Williams, who leads the team in scoring.

Jeff Goldwater/Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 14, 1997
Words:529
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