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Ice in his Veins

One night before the best game of his basketball career, Prospect junior guard Dakota Gordon could be found in the quiet Prospect Middle School gym with his older brother, Pat Gordon, a loan officer in Arizona who was in town for the holidays.

The two, separated by 12 years, played a back-and-forth, seven-game series of one-on-one.

"It was intense," Dakota, 16, says. "Driving on him was like driving into a brick wall."

Says Pat, "We were just straight going at it. Every game was close. He's just so tough to defend but neither of us wanted to quit."

A night later with Pat in attendance, Dakota set the Prospect school record with 53 points in a 91-84 victory over Milo Adventist on Dec. 20.


Dakota Gordon doesn't think so.

"A lot of (setting the record) was because of that," Dakota says of playing against Pat the night before, which Dakota eventually won. "It gave me so much confidence."

The 5-foot-10 Gordon, who is averaging 27.4 points per game this season, was 19-of-26 shooting from the field, 9-of-12 shooting from 3-point range and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line en route to breaking Troy Linderman's mark of 49 points set in 1995.

Gordon had five 3-pointers and 17 points in the critical third quarter. At one point, facing a double-team, Gordon pulled up and stepped back to connect on a 3-pointer, prompting a response of "Merry Christmas" from Milo Adventist coach Bill Lymbie.

"He was so hot that night," Pat Gordon says. "It was probably one of the best single game performances I've seen in my life, from anybody."

The moment was particularly special for Pat, who had a shot at the same record in the first game of his senior year at Prospect in 1998. Pat had 32 points by halftime in a tournament game against Paisley but did not play in the second half in order to rest for a game the following night.

Pat finished up a stellar career at Prospect, scoring 26 points per game that season, but never managed to set the single-game scoring record.

"It just never came together like it should have to break that record," Pat says. "That was probably the only game I had a good shot of doing something like that."

But now that the record belongs to a member of the Gordon family, the feeling is just as gratifying, Pat says.

After watching Dakota break the mark, Pat greeted him near the locker room, hugged him and said, "that was amazing."

"There are not really words to describe the emotions and feelings I had to be there and watch him have the game of his career," Pat says. "It was really special.

"For him to be able to hold the record, that's as sweet as it gets. You want to see your brothers do well in sports and life as well. It was a great feeling and something that almost brings tears to your eyes just to watch."

The ever-humble Dakota didn't realize until minutes after the game, when totals were counted, that he'd set the record.

"I knew I was hot, but I didn't really know I broke the record," he says. "I was just excited we won. I don't think it registered until we got home.

"That's super cool that I broke it, but I'm more worried about making the playoffs. That's my biggest goal."

It's been a stunning season for Dakota Gordon thus far after playing in the shadow of Jacob Schultz last season and Darryl Swearingen two seasons ago. Both players were co-MVPs of the league.

Gordon looks well on his way to earning that award. He scored 42 points, then a career high, in the second game of the season. He's also scored 31 and 33 points this season for Prospect (6-5).

"He's very capable of being that hot all the time," says Prospect coach and Dakota's father Mike Gordon.

Dakota Gordon grew up as the youngest of five children and as a true basketball junkie. He recalled riding the team bus to watch brothers, Pat, 28, and Zach, 24, play for Prospect. He also has two sisters, Tiffani, 30, and Sarah, 23.

Dakota Gordon was also exposed firsthand to the game at a very young age. With his father Mike as the commissioner of the summer camp for Washington State University, Gordon was able to attend at the age of six.

"The Washington State kids would pack him around on their shoulders," Mike Gordon says. "And I would be down at practice, and he would be right in the middle of things doing drills. Sometimes in shooting competitions, he would win as a sixth grader. That doesn't seem natural.

"He's a very motivated kid. I'm not sure what caused that, but I'm sure that's why he is as successful as he is. He's a go-go-go type of kid."

Since the age of 10, Dakota's attended at least two basketball camps every summer. Most recently, he attended a week-long camp at the University of Oregon where he was named the camp's most valuable player. In the final game of the camp, Gordon led his squad back from a 28-point halftime deficit by scoring 30 points in the second half of a three-point victory.

Gordon won the one-on-one and hot-shot competitions during the camp as well and later attended junior nationals in Columbus, Ohio, in late July and an NBC camp, the largest overnight basketball camp in the world, in La Grande.

"The camps help with everything — physical, conditioning, mental," says Gordon, also an all-league selection for football and baseball. "I've heard multiple coaches say that a camp like that is worth half a year in basketball. I've always worked really hard at it."

Not unlike his predecessor Pat, who went on to play at Western Oregon University before injuries derailed his career.

Though only a junior, a few colleges, such as Northwest Christian College in Eugene, have expressed interest in Dakota, Mike says.

"It's like seeing myself grow up again," Pat says. "I can look at (Dakota) and I see a lot of myself in him. He loves the game. It's good to see a kid so humble go take it to someone out there."

Reach sports reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com

Prospect's Dakota Gordon set the school record with 53 points this season. - Jamie Lusch