In a game marred by 26 traveling calls, it was appropriate that Granada Hills High won in a cakewalk. And perhaps it also stood to reason that the most effective Highlander was a guy whose playing style resembled Spiderman crawling up a skyscraper.
Dennis Bishop, a forward who stands 6-3 but plays more like he's 6-6, had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Granada Hills to a 73-57 win over L.A. Wilson Friday night in a first-round City 3-A playoff game at Granada Hills.
The long-armed Bishop stood by the net much of the game snatching offensive rebounds like a spider catching flies. He turned five into field goals.
"If I box out right, I can rebound with most guys," Bishop said. "I try to do the same thing on both ends of the floor."
The Highlanders needed the rebounding of Bishop and center Gary Gray because they made more turnovers than Sarah Lee, 23 in all. In the first half, Granada Hills committed 13 turnovers--a baker's dozen--but led, 33-27, on the strength of Bishop and Gray.
Wilson's tallest player, center Ron Rodriguez, is 6-3, five inches shorter than Gray and not even as tall as Highlander guard Sam Puathasnanon, who is 6-4. Rodriguez had nine rebounds, but Gray had 17 as Granada Hills out-rebounded Wilson, 43-21.
"Obviously, the difference was their height advantage," Wilson Coach Mario Cantu said. "We tried to slow the tempo and work for high-percentage shots, but we couldn't keep it up."
In the first period, the Mules gave up points stubbornly. Granada Hills led, 16-12, but was unable to get a fast break going. As the game wore on, however, the tempo increased along with the Highlander lead. The final few minutes were garbage time, and every Highlander got to play.
"That's a nice thing to be able to do in a playoff game," Granada Hills Coach Bob Johnson said. "Everyone will work hard next week in practice because they know they may get a chance to play."
The Highlanders put the game away when they scored three straight fast-break baskets midway through the fourth period.
With Granada Hills leading, 54-48, Bishop finished two breaks with layups, then grabbed a rebound and hit guard Terrell Smith with a long pass. Smith missed a layup, but Gray rebounded and scored to give the Highlanders a 12-point lead.
"Wilson started pressing and we went right by them," Johnson said. "Dennis Bishop was the key tonight. But let me tell you, he plays this way all the time."
Granada Hills, the Northwest Valley League champion and seeded second in the playoffs, improved its record to 18-3. The victory avenged a loss to Wilson in the second round of last season's playoffs.
Wilson (8-12), third in the Northern League this season, was beaten twice in league play by Marshall, the 3-A's top-seeded team. Cantu was asked to compare Granada Hills to Marshall.
"Granada is bigger, but Marshall may have quicker guards." Cantu said. "If Granada can play a strong inside game, they could do really well against Marshall."
But only if the Highlanders do more running than walking.