Ken Leighton 11:30 a.m., Aug. 27
Grossmont slows down Granite Hills to clinch share of league title
On a night when Grossmont’s student section donned sombreros, it was fitting that the Foothillers were crowned league champs. Grossmont beat Granite Hills 84-64 on Tuesday night to claim at least a share of the Grossmont Hills League title.
“It means everything,” said Grossmont guard Anthony Bowden. “That’s what we were aiming for – a league championship.”
Through the first three quarters, the game was physical and closely contested. In the second quarter, Granite Hills guard Andre Lewis was hit in the face going for a rebound and the game had to be stopped for 20 minutes while Lewis was attended to and the floor was mopped up.
“I didn’t know it was going to be that physical,” Bowden said. “Andre got hit in the nose and he just started leaking everywhere. It was pretty crazy.”
The energy of the game was still high when it picked back up. Grossmont guard Michael Wnek hit a three to give the Foothillers a one-point lead at the half.
Despite losing a lot of blood in the injury, Lewis returned in the third quarter, but looked a little off. He still made an impact though, making a layup at the end of the quarter to make it a three-point game.
“I think that break helped him focus a little bit more even though he was hurt. He was still lights out,” Grossmont forward Jake Haar said of Lewis.
All the energy Granite Hills spent to stay in the game in the third quarter clearly took its impact on the Eagles in the fourth. After Grossmont opened up a 10-point lead two minutes into the quarter Granite Hills fell flat, allowing the Foothillers to coast to a decisive 20-point win.
“Once we started getting the rebounds and running they couldn’t hang with us,” Bowden said.
Grossmont (17-9, 8-1) completed the sweep of Granite Hills (19-7, 6-3) largely in part to their defense. The Foothillers forced the Eagles to take tough shots and limited their possessions down the stretch.
“We knew their offense and we knew what they were going to do – just come up to the three-point line and shoot the lights out of the ball,” Bowden said. “We didn’t know that last game and this time we knew. We just played good on defense.”
Guard Desean Waters led a balanced Grossmont attack with 21 points. Haar and guard Robby Nesovic each added 20 for the Foothillers.
“We had a lot of quality possessions about halfway through the third quarter until the end of the game,” said Grossmont head coach Frank Foggiano.
With the win, Grossmont clinches at least a share of their first league title since 2000. The Foothillers can claim the title outright with a win at West Hills (5-21, 0-10) on Friday.
“That’s our main goal and that’s really what we’re trying to aim for,” Bowden said. “That would be a big accomplishment for us.” After a slow start, Grossmont has won nine of their last 10. With their defense and balance, the Eagles could be a sleeper when the Division II playoffs start next week.
“We didn’t get off to the best start and that hurt us in the beginning, but we’re getting better and we’re more together now,” Haar said.
In a losing effort, Granite Hills guard Garrett Larch-Miller scored a season-high 33 points. The Eagles have now lost two straight.
Grossmont – 84 (23-15-21-25)
Waters 21, Nesovic 20, Haar 20, Lakis 8, Bowden 7 (starters) Wnek 8
Granite Hills – 65 (18-19-19-9)
Larch-Miller 33, Gaines 14, Lewis 11, Otineru 4, Snyder 3 (starters)
Grossmont guard Desean Waters drives to the hoop against Granite Hills forward Jason Gaines