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Success Is the Same

Posted: February 6, 2008 11:30 a.m.
Updated: April 8, 2008 2:02 a.m.

Hart High's Megan Ford (42) shoots over West Ranch's Kaylyn Tarver (11) and Tori Wilson Tuesday night at West Ranch High. Ford scored 33 points for Hart.

Four graduated starters. One retired head coach. Three wins in the first nine games of the year.

Who cares?
For the seventh year in a row and the 17th in the past 20, the Hart High girls basketball team, adversity and all, has earned a Foothill League championship.
Center Megan Ford tied her career high with 33 points and Brianna Fitchpatrick had a personal-best 19 in her first-ever varsity start as the Indians clinched at least a share of the crown with one game remaining, topping West Ranch 65-52 Tuesday at West Ranch High.
With an 8-1 league record on seven straight victories, the only obstacle in the way of an outright league title is a showdown against 7-2 Saugus Friday night at Hart.
"To be honest, the Foothill League is what has meant everything to us all along," said Hart first-year head coach Zach Koebel. "For these seniors, they'll be able to put their year up with the other ones now and keep that tradition alive. Now we have to avoid any asterixes. We've accomplished this, but we don't want to share it now."
The prelude to Friday's showdown featured an opponent of a different caliber in the Wildcats - the matchup being a now-20-time league champion facing a team with one league win in its entire school history.
West Ranch (11-3, 0-8) is in last place.
"We're going to keep plugging away," said West Ranch head coach Ron Manalastas. "We'll get one."
Despite a surprise lead after the first quarter at 13-11 and being within five points of the Indians (17-8) with 3:24 left in the third quarter, Tuesday wasn't that night.
While the Wildcats blasted away from the outside, hitting 10 3-pointers, Ford dominated in the paint.
The center added 15 rebounds and six blocks against a West Ranch team which has had trouble defending post players, allowing 29 points earlier this season against Valencia power forward Starla Wright.
"All the things we talked about before the game as being keys, we didn't do," Manalastas said. "We talked about boxing out and getting rebounds, but we didn't. And every time we, for whatever reason, didn't double down Megan, it ended up with her making a layup."
Hart started to separate late in the second quarter.
With the game tied at 21 midway through the frame, Ford provided the first big push with eight unanswered points by herself over a stretch of 66 seconds.
In the third quarter Fitchpatrick, starting because a back injury sidelined Roselyn Angilau, joined the party.
After back-to-back 3-point plays two minutes into the third frame brought West Ranch to within six points, the guard responded with five straight of her own.
Fitchpatrick had 10 points in the frame and 14 in the half.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "I'm there to rebound and play defense usually, but I got more aggressive on offense and looked to score."
Hart pulled away with by scoring nine of the frame's final 12 points and six of the first eight in the fourth.
West Ranch never recovered.
"Story of our season," Manalastas said. "We play great for two quarters and fall apart for the other two."
The Wildcats were able to get no closer than the final score in the final frame, going from a potential 15-point deficit to 12 on a Lacie Jacobsen 3-point buzzer beater.
Notes: Koebel's wife gave birth to Taylor Isabella, the couple's second daughter Monday night . Taylor is a healthy eight pounds, 10 ounces ... Koebel said there is a chance Angilau could return to face the Centurions.


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