By Rick Assad
There is a certain self-confidence when Sattwik Banerjee steps onto a basketball court for Burbank High.
In the Bulldogs’ initial summer league game versus Van Nuys in the 26th Annual War on the Floor, the super smart senior who scored 1440 on the SAT and would like to attend an Ivy League school, Cal Tech, MIT or any of the UC schools, put the ball into the basket from close range and on the perimeter as he poured in a game-best 32 points as the Bulldogs easily handled the Wolves, 70-48 in a Silver Division pool play game at the Burbank small gym on Thursday afternoon.
The games consist of two 16-minute halves and if a player makes a free throw, it is counted as two points to keep the action flowing. No player can foul out.
Beside Banerjee, seven players scored for Burbank, which shot 44.2 percent (27 of 61) and they included Omar Payind’s 12, seven from Dante Shahbazian and five points from Mentoa McKenzie, a transfer from La Canada High.
Also finding the scoring column were senior guard Liam Baker, Kevin Dehbashian and senior wing Gio Castillo as they all dropped four points and Evan Baker accounted for two points.
“We started slow. We played last week. We hadn’t played a lot. A lot of guys are out, some had summer school, some guys had other things to do with their families,” Burbank coach Sid Cooke said. “The second half was better. This is the first game together. This is the first game against real competition.”
Leading the way for Van Nuys, which made 39 percent (16 of 41) was Josh Molina who tallied 23 points including 13 in the second half.
The Bulldogs dominated the action from the beginning as Banerjee scored a hoop and then added a three-pointer as the home team made two of their first three shots from the floor.
“I put in a lot of hours with Sid on the weekends. I’ve been practicing every day so my confidence over time has become a lot more since I was a sophomore,” said Banarjee, a guard/wing. “I’ve been working with Sid on my shot since I was a freshman, so I’ve become more confident and more comfortable shooting from deeper.”
Banerjee said these summer league and tournament games are ways to fine-tune the lineup.
“It’s definitely helpful because we get more looks to see what works, what doesn’t work, who can do what on our team,” he said. “We’re a pretty young team right now because we had a lot of seniors last year. It’s good to see what everyone can do.”
Burbank missed five straight attempts before Payind scored and after three consecutive misses, Banerjee made back-to-back shots that included a trey.
The Bulldogs then added seven straight baskets as Evan Baker found the range as did Banerjee and McKenzie’s three-pointer.
Liam Baker’s shot found the bottom of the net as did McKenzie, Dehbashian and Liam Baker.
Six shots failed to find the hoop, but the Bulldogs closed out the half in style as Banerjee nailed a three-pointer while Payind added a hoop and Banerjee canned a trey before Burbank missed the last three from the field. The Bulldogs were ahead 41-23 at halftime.
The second 16-minute half began with Banerjee accounting for six points that included a three-pointer.
After the Bulldogs missed two shots, Banerjee drained a hoop and after two missed attempts, Banerjee scored once more.
It was Dehbashian’s turn to score and Payind then added a three-pointer and a bucket after two misses.
Banerjee scored and the Bulldogs had a dry spell as they missed six shots before Shahbazian and Payind each drained a three-pointer.
Shahbazian capped the scoring with a hoop in the waning moments of the match.