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Hart boys hoops caps 10-0 run

Indians narrowly win to finish perfect league season

Posted: February 13, 2014 11:04 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2014 11:04 p.m.
 

All that stood between Hart Indians boys basketball and the Foothill League’s first undefeated run since Valentine’s Day, 1997, were the Canyon Cowboys and 23 seconds.

And that’s when an Indians team, known for its offensive play, clamped down one final time on defense.

Hart guard Myles Franklin disrupted a Mark Bell jump shot, and a desperation putback attempt from Dean Hendrix-Davis fell short as Hart won 53-52 at Canyon High School on Thursday night to finish the league season 10-0.

“I’m blessed,” said senior guard Lewis Stallworth, who finished with 11 points and seven assists. “I’m ecstatic. I feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s my last league game. I wanted it to be a thriller. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The Cowboys had one final chance, inbounding from under their own basket with 0.5 seconds remaining. But a lob pass for Hendrix-Davis landed in Hart’s hands and the celebration began.

The Indians (25-2, 10-0 Foothill) entered the fourth quarter up 45-36, and stretched the margin to as many as 11.

But Canyon (21-6, 5-5) turned to guard Ben Taufahema, who scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final frame.

Taufahema’s old-fashioned three-point play with 32.8 seconds left pulled Canyon within 53-52. But the Indians were able to end the scoring there.

“We got lackadaisical in the last three minutes,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “We’ve got to play that defense the whole game and not just when we have to.”

The game was reminiscent of last year’s Foothill League finale, when Hart led by as many as 17 before Canyon stormed back for a 62-61 victory that cost Hart a Foothill League title.

A video depicting highlights of the game was shown during a pregame ceremony that pushed the start of the game from 6:30 p.m. back to 7:04 p.m. — a delay that appeared to frustrate many of the Indians.

“We just wanted to play,” Stallworth said. “All the shenanigans, senior night, we just wanted to play.”
And the video?

“It pumped us up,” he said. “They spoiled our season last year. We had a chance to win league and we let it slip away by one. Now we won by one.”

For Canyon, despite a fourth-place finish in league, an at-large berth into the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs is likely.

But don’t look for moral victories from the Cowboys.

“Everyone is looking for something, but we play to win,” said Canyon head coach Sean DeLong. “We feel like champions in that sense. We don’t care about the feel good, we come out to win.”

The Indians will enter the CIF-SS Division IIA bracket as the Foothill’s No. 1 seed when the brackets are released Sunday. Their perfect Foothill League campaign is the first by any team in the league since Hart accomplished the feat on Feb. 14, 1997 with an 88-71 victory over Saugus.

Franklin led the Indians with 17 points. Hendrix-Davis added 10 for Canyon.

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