WEST VALLEY CITY Granger has made a habit out of shooting other teams into submission this season. Against Murray, the Lancers turned to another weapon in their arsenal multiple sets of quick hands.
Granger forced 19 turnovers including 13 steals to outlast the Spartans 62-56 on Tuesday night to move to 4-1 in Region 6. The Lancers moved into a first-place tie with West, a team they will square off against next week.
Murray seemed powerless to stop Granger from taking away one pass after another. The Lancers disrupted passing lanes almost at will with its hard and aggressive defense.
"It speaks for itself," Lancers coach Kurt Schneider said. "I've got guys that are quick, have good hands and are athletic. I think that causes a lot of teams issues."
Granger's thievery certainly disrupted the Spartans early in the game. The Lancers picked up four steals in the first seven minutes alone and it led to easy transition baskets like T.J Tapusoa's layup, after he picked off an inbound pass at midcourt, that gave Granger an 18-8 lead.
But in order to take one more step toward claiming region supremacy, the Lancers had to survive a hot shooting night from Markus Duran.
And they did barely.
Duran poured in a game-high 33 points to single-handedly rally Murray from a 15 point deficit. He scored 15 straight points from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the third to bring the Spartans to within two at 37-35.
The junior guard found all sorts of ways to generate points. And he usually did it just after Granger though it had finally shaken off Murray.
Duran hit a free throw and followed his miss to make it 53-47 with 5:30 left in the fourth. Then he hit a running jumper in the lane to make it 57-56 with 1:35 left.
Mani Tapusoa finally iced the game when he drove for a layup and hit a free throw to make it 60-56, 24 seconds later.
"It was important," Tapusoa said. "We just needed to show up and play clutch."
Granger was able to survive the Spartans' late rally by getting to the free throw line down the stretch.The Lancers only shot one free throw in the first three quarters, compared to 16 attempts for Murray. But they more than made up for it by going 9-for-10 from the line during the fourth quarter.