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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL : Canoga Park No Picnic for North Hollywood

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nobody would bat an eye at the outcome of the Valley Pac-8 Conference boys’ basketball opener between North Hollywood and Canoga Park highs Friday:

North Hollywood 77, Canoga Park 68.

The Huskies are perennial league champions. The Hunters, of late, have been also-rans. After a 4-19 finish last season and a 4-8 start this year, they might jokingly be called the Hunted.

But this is no joke: Canoga Park gave North Hollywood a jolt on its home court, once leading, four times tying and not surrendering until 2 minutes 51 seconds remained.

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That’s when Canoga Park’s Joey Truong sank a layup that would have cut the Husky lead to one point. But Truong was called for traveling and North Hollywood went on a 6-0 run to lead, 70-61, with 1:28 left.

North Hollywood point guard Arthur Lee had taken control by then. The Stanford-bound senior scored 26 points, including 10 in the first quarter and 10 in the fourth.

The Huskies (8-6) led by six in the third quarter, but only 51-49 entering the fourth.

After the traveling call against Truong, Damon Francis hit a jump shot, Jeff Carpenter a layup and Lee two free throws.

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“Coach (Steve) Miller said they were much improved, and they were,” Lee said. “They kept hitting big shots--a couple of three pointers--and they played pretty good defense, too.”

Canoga Park’s Ryan Sylva, who had 21 points, gave the Hunters a glimmer of hope with a three-pointer that cut North Hollywood’s lead to six after Lee’s first set of free throws.

But Canoga Park sealed its fate by making only three of 13 free throws in the second half.

North Hollywood’s Nicola Batzkovich scored six points in his first game since arriving from Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound junior, who enrolled Monday, came off the bench three times but sat out the final quarter.

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