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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Boys' Basketball Notebook

February 27, 2001|DAN LOUMENA

Granada Hills Hillcrest Christian, which plays Downey Calvary Chapel at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Faith Baptist in a Division V-AA semifinal, has more than made up for its lack of size with its balance. That was evident against a bigger Buckley team Friday night in a 66-64 victory.

Amrit Nat, a 5-11 senior guard who made a breakaway layup off an inbounds play to win the game with 10 seconds left, carried the team in the first quarter with eight of his 17 points.

When Buckley took a 42-37 lead in the third quarter with a 7-0 run, Nat ended a dry spell of four possessions when Coach Joshua Kendrick had the Eagles isolate Nat on the right side. He made a turnaround baseline jumper.

Senior center Eric Hodgkins, the team's tallest player at 6-2 1/2, scored 15 of his 25 points in the second quarter. At a crucial point in the fourth quarter, Hodgkins had one of his five assists on a give-and-go alley-oop to 6-0 junior guard Alex Martino. Martino scored eight of Hillcrest's 10 points in that stretch to gain a 64-58 lead.

"What we lack in height, we have to make up for with quickness and hustle," Kendrick said.

Kendrick said that although Hillcrest Christian, which lost in the V-A semifinals last season to state powerhouse Price, was moved up to V-AA this season, the team's goal was to win the Westside League and make the state playoffs. A victory tonight accomplishes both goals.

"Moving up to V-AA was a big step, but we felt that [our goals were] attainable," Kendrick said. "We've been underrated all year. People said we'd lose to Flintridge [Prep] and then to Buckley, but we felt that all along we could do it."

Hillcrest Christian could receive a boost tonight if 6-2 senior forward James Habashy is at full strength. He's been nursing a sprained ankle for two games.

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