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Lattimore Move Provides Spark to Granada Hills

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Friday night, Aaron Lattimore was turned inside out. Finally.

After Lattimore played as a guard all last season on the Granada Hills High junior varsity, Coach Bob Johnson had this funny idea that Lattimore’s services might be better utilized on the varsity as a forward. After 2 starters became ill this week, however, Lattimore was back on the perimeter playing his old position--basically out of necessity.

Yet after Lattimore’s performance on Friday night, he may never again have to pull another inside job.

The 6-foot, 4-inch junior scored 23 points as the Highlanders defeated Chatsworth, 81-66, in a Northwest Valley Conference opener at Chatsworth.

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In his first varsity start, all Lattimore did was knock in an eye-popping 5 3-point shots, 7 of 10 field-goal attempts and 4 of 4 free throws.

“I’ve had my eye on him for awhile,” Johnson said. “He’s been close, real close. I’ve wanted to move him outside, but we needed him at forward, too.”

With senior point guard John Johnson out sick, Lattimore started at off-guard while Jamal Brantley--who scored 14 points and had 7 assists--filled in at the point. Forget the get-well cards, John Johnson will undoubtedly feel 100% better when he learns what Lattimore did against Chatsworth.

J. J.'s job isn’t in jeopardy, but he might not know that.

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“I think I’m a better outside player than I am inside,” Lattimore said. “We have three big guys inside already. I’m better from out there.”

Lattimore led a charge by Granada Hills (9-3 overall) late in the third quarter that Chatsworth simply could not answer. The Highlanders took a 37-30 lead at the half behind the play of senior forward Alvin Brown, who scored a game-high 25 points and had 14 rebounds. Brown scored 9 points in the first quarter to make up for the absence of fellow forward Edward Thomas, who also was ill.

Chatsworth (7-4, 0-1) stayed within striking range, however, until Lattimore keyed an abrupt about-face in the final moments of the third quarter.

Chatsworth guard Sam Kim (13 points) scored inside and was fouled by Lattimore with 1:20 left. Kim sank the ensuing free throw to complete the 3-point play, cutting the Highlander lead to 53-45. Lattimore, however, answered with a 3-point basket on the Highlanders’ next possession and drilled yet another 3-point shot with 2 seconds left to help give Granada Hills a 61-46 lead after 3 quarters.

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Chatsworth guard Rick Garrick was the object of a variety of defensive sets and scored only 10 points on 3-of-15-shooting. Johnson said he whipped up a mix of coverages to keep the all-league guard from getting comfortable.

“We went from man to a diamond-and-one, but we didn’t want to stay with any one thing too long,” Johnson said. “He’s hurt everybody. He’s a real shooter.”

Even with 2 newcomers in the Highlander lineup, the Chancellors were unable to keep up. Chatsworth reserves accounted for only 14 points, 8 of which were scored in the fourth quarter after mass substitutions by both teams.

Only 5 players scored for Granada Hills, including 9 points from Renardo Pace, who filled in for Edwards. But since 2, uh, irregulars carried much of the Highlander burden, Johnson was more than pleased.

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“That’s pretty good for having two guys out,” he said. “Both our guys who took over did OK.”

Chatsworth made only 13 of 35 shots (37%) in the second half. Granada Hills made 16 of 30 (53%).


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