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CHULA VISTA – In a matchup that featured two teams with similar up-and-down styles, something had to give when No. 9 Granite Hills met Hilltop on Wednesday. The Lancers made the contest theirs with physical play, beating the visiting Eagles 59-36.

“We played good defense,” said Hilltop guard Omar Hernandez. “We knew they wanted to penetrate so we had to step in there and play tough.”

Hilltop (11-4) led by seven after the opening quarter and extended its lead as Granite Hills went scoreless in the first four minutes of the second quarter. The Eagles made it 26-15 at halftime on a Garrett Larch-Miller half court buzzer beater.

“We knew their offense because it is the same offense we run,” Hernandez said. “We knew how to defend that.”

After the break, the Lancers continued their physical approach and began to pull away. They pounded the ball inside to forward Carlos Perez, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.

“We just hustled as a team. We talked about it all this week in preparing for the game,” Hernandez said.

Granite Hills (12-5) didn’t get closer than 17 in the fourth quarter in a comfortable win for Hilltop. The Lancers rebounded from a 15-point loss to Mission Bay on Jan. 7.

“We took a very big step forward today,” Hernandez said. “We bounced back from the Mission Bay game and we have to move on and get better.”

Three Hilltop players scored in double figures in the win, including Hernandez (11 points) and Perez. Hernandez thinks the Lancers can contend for the Mesa League title this season after finishing second to Eastlake last year.

“If we come out playing like we did today we should be fine,” Hernandez said.

Larch-Miller led Granite Hills with 20 points despite sitting out part of the second quarter with foul trouble. The Eagles finished with a season-low in points in their second loss of the week.

Hilltop – 59 (12-15-16-17)

Shaw 14, Perez 13, Hernandez 11, Jimenez 8, McGuire 0 (starters) Alejandre 5, Red 4, Trujillo 2, Welchance 2

Granite Hills – 36 (5-10-9-12)

Larch-Miller 20, Atkinson 5, Grubb 5, Sadik 4, Otineru 0 (starters) Petty 2

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Hilltop guard Omar Hernandez takes the ball inside against Granite Hills

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