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Foothill League boys basketball: Drought over at Hart

Indians win first Foothill League game since 2009

Posted: January 14, 2011 10:27 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2011 4:55 a.m.

Hart guard Roman Delgado tries to dribble around West Ranch’s Brian Polynice on Friday at West Ranch High.

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No team knows more about heartbreak than Hart boys basketball.

But this time, it wasn’t Hart players hanging their heads at the end of the day.

The Indians rallied back from a 14-point second-half deficit to beat West Ranch 60-58 Friday night at West Ranch High, which snapped Hart’s 11-game Foothill League losing streak.

It was Hart’s first league win since Feb. 12, 2009.

“For them, yes (it means a lot),” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “I just look at each game individually. This is just something to build on.”

And for the second straight game, the Wildcats had to watch the opposing team’s fans charge their home court after the game.

The red and black-clad fans were celebrating Hart guard Roman Delgado’s game-winning play where he snatched a West Ranch pass on the other end and streaked across the court for the game-winning layup with 6 seconds left.

“Last year, we were 0-10 (in league play), and there was no way we were going to let that happen again,” Delgado said.

He finished with 22 points to lead Hart (9-8, 1-1).

Up until the last few minutes, it had been a rough night for Delgado and the rest of the team.

Hart missed easy shots, committed a lot of unforced turnovers, and had trouble dealing with the Wildcats’ zone defense most of the night.

That allowed West Ranch to build a 49-35 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

But one rebound, one steal and one free throw at a time, the Indians crawled back into the game.

“They had a never-quit attitude,” Kelly said. “We just kept saying chip, chip, chip and we didn’t give up.”

The Wildcats (12-6, 0-2), on the other hand, didn’t help themselves with frustration fouls away from the basket and turnovers against Hart’s pressure man-to-man defense.

“We’re a young basketball team, and a lot of these guys need to understand, in the Foothill League, you’ve got to play a full 32 minutes,” said West Ranch head coach Sean Legaux. “Hart played 32 minutes.”

West Ranch went 8-for-21 from the free throw line, which also didn’t help its cause.

In the first half, the Wildcats didn’t need free throws, as they used a motion offense to go up 34-28 at halftime.

Both teams played without their best big men, with West Ranch’s Ako Kaluna and Hart’s Dillon Morris sitting out due to early foul trouble.

Kaluna still managed to co-lead West Ranch with 14 points and a team-high 15 rebounds.

Justin Ballenger also had 14 for the Wildcats.

But in the closing minutes, neither player had many chances as Hart began to trap the guards and force miscues.

Hart forward Cole Preston finally closed the gap when his layup tied it at 58-58 for the first time since 16-16 with 28 seconds left.

Preston scored 20 points in the contest.

West Ranch called a timeout before taking it up court, leading to Delgado’s winning steal on a pass intended for Ballenger.

“I just read his eyes, and as soon as he threw it, I knew I had it,” Delgado said.

It was the second straight close loss for the Wildcats, who fell 59-57 in overtime to Valencia on Tuesday.

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