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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Grant Tightens Screws on Poly, 48-45

Valley Pac-8: Foul-plagued Richardson scores only 13 for Parrots; Arenas counters with 27 and Lancers hold off late rally.

January 24, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SUN VALLEY — The point battle between the top two scorers from the Valley Pac-8 Conference wasn't close, but the game certainly was.

Gilbert Arenas scored 27 points to lead Grant High to a 48-45 victory over Poly Friday night.

But the Parrots, despite only 13 points by Ellis Richardson, were able to rally from a double-digit deficit to nearly force overtime at Poly High.

Grant held a three-point lead and the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining when Mike Yildiz was called for traveling after he grabbed a loose ball while lying down in the key.

Gabino Quiroz and Andres De La Hoya passed the ball back and forth before De La Hoya's three-point attempt with five seconds left bounced off the rim.

In pursuit for the rebound, Grant knocked the ball out of bounds, leaving the Parrots with four-tenths of a second.

A three-point attempt by Richardson from the corner never touched the rim, and the Lancers escaped still undefeated in conference play.

"We still have a lot of things to work on," Grant Coach Howard Levine said. "I thought we played really good defense on Ellis."

Richardson, who was averaging 25.1 points a game, sat out more than 10 minutes of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.

Richardson played the whole second half, but was out of sync throughout, making three of 12 shots from the field. He missed all five of his three-point attempts and finished six-of-20 overall.

"I totally blame myself for this loss," Richardson said. "We should have been more focused on wins, not how many points I score. My teammates want to take me to the NBA, but we have other things to worry about."

The Parrots (8-10, 2-2 in conference play) struggled without Richardson. In one stretch, Poly missed 18 of 19 shots.

But the Lancers (13-6, 4-0) didn't take advantage until late in the half, when back-to-back steals and dunks by Arenas built a 26-17 lead.

Arenas, who averages 32 points, scored 21 in the first half, and appeared ready to challenge his career-high of 46, set earlier this season against Bell-Jeff.

But Arenas made only three of 11 shots in the second half. "I'm a streak shooter," he said. "[Shots] just go like that sometimes."

Poly finally made its run late in the third quarter, scoring 11 in a row to tie the score, 40-40, two minutes into the fourth quarter.

With Richardson struggling, Harold Berreondo filled the void, scoring four points in the run and nine of his 11 in the second half.

Gilberto Ramos shadowed Arenas throughout the fourth quarter, stagnating the Lancers' offense, but Krishna Evans was open underneath the basket for two lay-ups, including one with a minute left that extended a one-point lead.

"We generally didn't run our half-court well except for those couple of times," Levine said.

Arenas finished with 13 rebounds and Richardson with nine.

Grant begins East Valley League play next week with a one-game lead over North Hollywood.

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