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Hart guards put on a show

Lewis Stallworth and Myles Franklin have the Indians thinking big this year

Posted: January 13, 2014 8:47 p.m.
Updated: January 13, 2014 8:47 p.m.

Indians guards Myles Franklin, left, and Lewis Stallworth, right, may be the best combo of playmakers Hart coach Tom Kelly has ever seen.

 

Come for the basketball, stay for the show.

Hart High School is home to arguably its most talented team — ever.

The Indians will win games — in abundance.

It will play defense — with ferocity.

On top of all that, two young men will put on a show — daily.

“We’re fun to watch. We’re creative,” admits Hart senior guard Lewis Stallworth. “We love to put on a show.”

And the other young man ...

“I think we do (put on a show). We know night in and night out, the spotlight will be on us,” says Hart junior guard Myles Franklin.

Let’s put those statements into context.

Both players were asked about the unique brand of creativity they bring to the game of basketball.

Both players are in their third varsity year, having made giant impacts on the Foothill League the previous two seasons.

Together, they are arguably the best guard tandem the Santa Clarita Valley has seen since the millennium has had the No. 2 in front of it.

“I think this is the best guard tandem in the league since I remember,” says 14-season Hart head basketball coach Tom Kelly.

Sound biased?

If one knows Tom Kelly, one knows he is honest and would say if there was another guard tandem that was better.

And listen to one Santa Clarita Valley basketball man’s opinion on them.

“They are very, very good. Without a doubt two of the most explosive guards this valley has seen play together,” says Canyon co-athletic director and basketball head coach from 2000-2012 Chad Phillips. “Till their run comes to an end, their strory is yet to be written.”

Stallworth is a two-time Signal All-Santa Clarita Valley first-teamer, having averaged 18 points per game last season and 16.6 as a sophomore.

Franklin was a second-teamer in 2012 and a first-teamer in 2013, having gone from 11.7 points and 5.3 assists in 2011-12 to 18 points and 5.0 assists in 2012-13.

Both are extremely creative with the basketball (Stallworth making others around him look like they’re in slow motion with his athleticism and body control, Franklin being a step ahead of everyone with his passes and silky drives to the basket), which makes them fun to watch.

Both are high-personality kids — Stallworth the more outspoken and savvy one, Franklin — the quiet, caring one.

But there is something both don’t have.

Both players understand that with as good as they are and with the excitement they bring they could leave Hart High school with a legacy.

That legacy is less without championships.

The Hart Indians had a Foothill League title in their grasps last season.

All they had to do was beat a Canyon team that came into the game at 3-6 in league play.

Hart was stunned, losing 62-61 at home.

“I don’t like to talk about it,” Franklin says. “My family knows. It was really bitter. It motivated me to even do a lot better everyday. I remember the date, the day after. It’s really bitter. ... February 8.”

The Indians were supremely talented last season.

Behind the scenes, though, things weren’t all well.

Kelly and Stallworth clashed.

Not everyone was on the same page.

Franklin didn’t give the coaching staff grief and always maintained a solid relationship with Stallworth, even with both being prolific scorers, but it wasn’t enough to keep the ship from sinking in Foothill and in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIAAA playoffs.

“He kind of didn’t like my style when I came to Hart,” Stallworth says of his coach. “Pompous, I was cocky over the years. We’ve really matured into a good relationship. I’ve really grown as a person.”

Stallworth says over the course of the summer, he realized he has one shot left at a championship with this Hart team.

He also realized maybe his veteran coach might know a thing or two.

In turn, Kelly has called Stallworth the most improved player on his team.

One of the best players being most improved is a really good thing for the Indians.

And with two guys in the backcourt being deadset on winning a league title, Hart will be a hard team to stop.

But let’s not stop at a Foothill League title, which the Indians last won in 2007.

A wild-card playoff team in 2005, Hart made it all the way to a CIF championship game, ultimately losing to an Etiwanda team with two future NBA players including current Los Angeles Clipper Darren Collison.

This Hart team is much more talented than that 2005 squad.

In fact, Kelly says it’s the most talented team he has ever had.

“We’re thinking first Foothill and then thinking CIF,” says Stallworth, who recently committed to UTEP. “We have to buy into both. Both are achievable goals.”

It might be Hart’s time.

It might be the guard tandem’s time.

Two of the best guards this valley has seen in recent history understand the challenge ahead, the legacies that can be made and are eager to get going.

There’s only one thing left to be said with Foothill League play tipping off tonight and Hart playing defending league champion West Ranch.

It’s showtime.

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