GRANADA HILLS — Even after scoring six points in the third quarter and letting all of a 10-point halftime lead get away, Valencia High boys basketball had possession late in the fourth and a chance to win.
Then the Vikings turned the ball over twice in the final 12 seconds, never getting a shot off.
Valencia turned it over 24 times in all, making a dominant first quarter a distant memory in a 52-50 loss to Granada Hills Charter at Kennedy High on Wednesday night.
The setback meant the Vikings finished 2-2 at the annual San Fernando Valley Invitational and dropped to 4-5 on the year.
“It falls on me,” said Valencia coach Chad Phillips. “I just have to do a better job of getting them prepared.”
Valencia’s Jayden Trower, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, led all scorers with 20 points — 11 coming early in the fourth quarter and reviving a team that looked listless in the third.
Leading 20-9 after one quarter and 28-18 at the half, Valencia proceeded to make 3-of-10 field goals in the third, sending the game to the fourth quarter tied 34-34.
But momentum didn’t totally swing the Highlanders’ way.
Viking Kyler Motoyasu’s strong drive to the basket for an and-1 pulled Valencia in front 48-46 with 1:43 to play.
But the Highlanders (4-5) answered moments later with a three-point play of their own to take the lead for good.
“Our intensity kind of just lowered down,” Trower said of the second half. “We just turned the ball over too much and were just lazy with the ball.”
The Vikings have regularly gotten off to slower starts this year. Wednesday, they turned up the defensive pressure early and Granada Hills felt the heat.
The Highlanders turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes, allowing Valencia to score easy baskets in transition.
Trower scored six points in the first quarter, as did Motoyasu. Valencia shot 9-of-12 in the frame on its way to an 11-point lead it ultimately couldn’t hold.
“I knew that they weren’t gong away,” Phillips said.
Valencia turned the ball over seven times in the third quarter and seven more times in the fourth.
The last two came with Valencia trailing by only one on its second to last possession and by two after a Highlander free throw.
According to the SFV invite bracket, Valencia was supposed to play Saugus for fifth place on Wednesday, with Granada Hills playing Kennedy for seventh.
But it was decided that, with Saugus and Valencia set to play in the Foothill League and Granada Hills and Kennedy slated for a preleague matchup, the teams would switch opponents.
Saugus beat Granada Hills, 78-72, on Tuesday.
Earlier this season, the Highlanders beat Canyon, 56-54 and lost to Hart, 75-56.
The Vikings hope to continue developing before they meet those teams in Foothill League play.
“Learning pains. Learning pains,” said Phillips, whose team graduated standouts Isaac Davis and Chibuzo Ikonte after last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA quarterfinal run.