Granada Hills High had just defeated Chatsworth on Wednesday, but there was little euphoria for the Highlanders. Alvin Brown spoke softly, almost embarrassed by his admission.
"Our heads weren't into the game. . . . We didn't have any concentration," he said, as his teammates left the floor quickly and quietly.
"It's amazing. We were sleepwalking out there," Granada Hills Coach Bob Johnson said. "The intensity level in the first half was awful."
The Highlanders showed enough fire in the second half to defeat the Chancellors, 62-57, in the Northwest Valley League game at Granada Hills.
Chatsworth (7-6, 1-1 in league play) led, 32-25, at halftime, then went on a quick 8-2 run after intermission to pad its lead to 40-27. The Chancellors appeared to be on their way to victory, which was all the more impressive considering they were without two of their top three scorers.
Stuart Thompson underwent minor surgery two days ago, and Erik Merkel has loose knee ligaments. Both are out for a week.
"Our team thought it could win easily because they were without two starters," Johnson said.
Granada Hills (5-4, 1-1 in league play) awoke late in the period as Brown scored nine points in a 13-3 Highlander flurry to close the gap to 43-40 with one quarter to play.
Brown scored on a turnaround jumper to knot the score, 47-47, then Jermoine Brantley hit a three-point shot, igniting another spurt that gave Granada Hills a 58-51 lead. David Waco retaliated with a three-point shot that pulled Chatsworth to within 58-54 with a minute left. The Highlanders then took 35 seconds off the clock and hit four consecutive free throws down the stretch.
Brown, a 6-4 junior who averages 13 points a game, scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, hitting 10 of 14 field-goal attempts. He picked up the load for guard John Johnson--the team's leading scorer with a 16-point average--who made only 3 of 9 shots and finished with 7 points. Brantley chipped in with 12.
"We psyched ourselves up at halftime," Brown said, more cheerful now. "Coach said we hadn't lost to Chatsworth for seven years. We didn't want to be the team to lose."
Chatsworth, of course, which led comfortably in the early going, saw the second half differently.
Larry Tepper, who scored 15 points, summed up the Chancellors' feelings in a word. "Letdown," he said.
Lance Smith also had 15 points for Chatsworth and Rick Garrick and Waco each added 11.