Perhaps it was an involuntary motion, but Granada Hills High basketball Coach Bob Johnson rubbed the back of his neck as he analyzed his team's performance at Carson on Wednesday.
Have an ounce of pity for the poor guy, because if this is the pace at which his team is going to motor up and down the floor all season, he will almost certainly need a chiropractor. Or at the very least, a chair that swivels.
"We happen to be able to score, I guess," Johnson said with a sly grin. "That's helpful."
The Highlanders, ranked No. 1 in the San Fernando Valley by The Times, again helped themselves to a ton of points, rolling to a 93-80 victory over Carson in a nonleague City Section game.
Granada Hills (7-1) is now averaging a shade under 87 points a game--and it would be higher if the Highlanders weren't being victimized by their own fast-breaking effectiveness.
The score Ping-Ponged so rapidly during one breathtaking stage of the second quarter that the Carson scoreboard operator fell behind and the Granada Hills tally had to be adjusted upward by two points at halftime. The teams combined for 53 points in the quarter.
Over the final three minutes of the second quarter, Granada Hills scored on seven consecutive shots from the floor to open a 53-38 lead at halftime. The Highlanders made 20 of 33 shots in the half (60.6%).
"We work hard and never let down," said senior swingman Gene Barshtak, who scored a team-high 24 points, mostly on back-door lay-ins. "This is a good team this year. We're not going to lose again."
Except maybe a bucket or two. Another scoring snafu awaited the Highlanders entering the fourth quarter, when the scoreboard operator and the keeper of the Carson score book shorted Granada Hills a basket. Despite scoring 20 points in the third quarter, the Highlanders were credited with 18 in the official book. When the discrepancy was pointed out to the officials, rather than again sort through the mess, they let the score stand as posted: Granada Hills 71, Carson 55. Highlander forward Adrian Sellers, who scored 16 points, was officially credited with 14.
Not that it really mattered. The Highlanders led, 34-14, with 6:15 left in the second quarter. By then, the Carson crowd started chanting, "Fooooootbaaaaall," in reference to Carson's 57-13 playoff shellacking of Granada Hills last Friday.
"This was a pay-back," Barshtak said. "Some of the guys even wrote 'Pay-back' on their shoes."
Carson, ranked No. 5 overall in the City by The Times, played without two starters, including 6-foot-9 junior center Khary Stanley, who is out with a back injury. Other than junior forward Rudy Washington (29 points) and senior guard Tyrone Smith (23), the remainder of the Carson roster played right into Granada Hills' collective hands. The pace was simply too much.
"We've got eight or nine guys who can score," Johnson said. "If one guy can't get it done, somebody else usually does."
Carson (4-4) mounted a minor rally in the third quarter to crawl as close as nine points, but Barshtak and Jerry Allen (23 points) kicked Granada Hills' offense back into high gear. Barshtak scored inside, then stole a pass at half court and scored on a lay-in to make it 82-67 with 3:42 left. Allen, who added seven rebounds and six assists, converted a three-point play with 1:21 left to give Granada Hills a 91-75 lead.