Prep basketball: Granada erupts in first quarter, beats California

SAN RAMON — Granada had the perfect game plan to silence California’s home crowd on Friday night.

The Matadors swished 3-pointers. They dunked. They sliced through the paint for easy buckets.

They made steals. They blocked shots.

“We were all thinking about that last game,” NaVaughn Long said. “That last game we lost by one. That was all in the back of our heads.”

That last game against California was at the San Ramon Valley tournament more than a month ago.

In the rematch Friday, Granada exploded for 29 points in the first quarter, charged to a 24-point lead in the second quarter and held off the hosts after halftime to win the East Bay Athletic League game 74-58.

Tyler Harris led the visitors with 25 points. Andrew McKeever, Granada’s 6-foot-11 St. Mary’s-bound center, finished with 19 points and Long had 18 points.

Amari Gray scored 29 points to lead California.

When the teams met on Dec. 9, McKeever was one of three Granada players who missed the game.

California won 54-53.

“We wanted to come out and show them how dominant we really were with a full team,” McKeever said. “That showed how good we can really be coming out at the start of the game.”

Long got the onslaught started with a 3-pointer on Granada’s first possession. He later scored on an inbounds pass and followed that with another 3-pointer.

Less than two minutes into the game, California had already called a timeout.

The Grizzlies closed to within 10-9 before Granada — ranked eighth by the Bay Area News Group — really heated up.

Harris scored on a three-point play, and McKeever, who missed an earlier dunk, made sure his next two tries at the rim fell through the hoop.

His third dunk of the quarter pushed the lead to 21-9.

Harris’ slam made it 23-10.

Then came back-to-back 3-pointers by Harris and Long that stretched the margin to 29-10.

California called timeout, again, with still 1:43 left in the opening quarter.

Andrew McKeever protects the rim and starts a break that ends with NaVaughn Long burying a corner 3-pointer that pushed Granada’s lead over California to 29-10 in the first quarter | ⁦@GranadaMats⁩ ⁦@joseph_dycus⁩ ⁦@leftwich⁩ ⁦@THE_EBAL_SPORTS⁩

— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) January 21, 2023

“Our boys practiced well all week,” Granada coach Quaran Johnson said. “I figured that we were going to have a nice start. I didn’t know it was going to be that nice. But it was about time we all were clicking at one time. We hadn’t had that yet. That was good to see.

“It shows how much we’ve grown. This team is resilient. We’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of different things that held up the process. But the more we play, the better we get and the more confidence they have.”

Granada improved to 16-4 overall and 3-1 in the EBAL.

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Ninth-ranked California lost its third in a row since winning at home against San Ramon Valley last Friday, including two in league play. The Grizzlies are 14-7, 2-2.

Tuesday, California visits Foothill and Granada will be at home to face second-ranked De La Salle.

“The gauntlet begins,” said Johnson, whose team visits San Ramon Valley on Thursday and Dublin two days after that. “That’s what this league is about.”