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Canoga Park Answers Challenge

Basketball: Hunters avenge earlier loss to Van Nuys with 84-78 victory to take one-game lead in Mid-Valley League.


CANOGA PARK — Since the Van Nuys High boys' basketball team stunned Canoga Park in a Mid-Valley League game 10 days ago, a question has been building: Could the upstart Wolves do it again?

Not on Canoga Park's home court they couldn't.

Canoga Park, led by Carloes Harper's 23 points and Anthony Ellison's 21, overcame an early eight-point deficit and defeated Van Nuys, 84-78, Friday night and reclaimed a one-game first-place lead in the league.

On Jan. 24, Van Nuys benefited from Canoga Park's dismal five-for-27 shooting from three-point range and upset the Hunters, 79-77, while putting an end to their 10-game winning streak.

But Canoga Park (18-3, 7-1) wasn't about to lose again--especially not at home. After all, the Hunters--The Times' No. 3-ranked team in the region--have lost only twice on their home court in two seasons.

"Going into the fourth quarter, I told them we need to take care of business at home," second-year Canoga Park Coach Ralph Turner said.

There were 18 lead changes in the game. The teams were tied at halftime, 39-39, and again after the third quarter, 60-60.

After an exchange of two-point baskets to open the final quarter, Canoga Park forged a 9-2 run to take a 71-64 lead with 4 minutes 35 seconds remaining.

Van Nuys (11-9, 6-2), which already clinched at least second place and a playoff berth with a victory over Poly on Wednesday, suffered from turnovers in the decisive fourth, once passing to a referee and out of bounds with 1:16 remaining and twice losing control of the ball while bringing it up the floor.

A three-point play by Van Nuys' Jon Okui got the Wolves within 77-74 with 1:34 remaining, but Canoga Park was able to hold on, despite making only seven of 12 free throws in the final minute.

Van Nuys' Onaje Longmire, who burned the Hunters for 30 points and 15 rebounds last week, was at it again, finishing with 26 points. Kris Hurdle added 20.

Canoga Park, which got just four points from its bench in the loss to Van Nuys last week, had 24 points from its bench this time, including 17 from Aaron Lasley.

Lasley, who played only about seven minutes in last week's loss because of a toe injury, pulled down 11 rebounds and proved to be the difference--if only for the confidence he brings to the game.

"We should have blown 'em out," Lasley said. "We're about to explode, [but] we're just taking our time."

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