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Hart impresses

The Indians bring the press late; Valencia now 0-2

Posted: January 16, 2009 11:08 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2009 4:59 a.m.

Hart High's Ben Kimble (20) goes up for a basket Friday night at Hart High. Kimble scored 14 points in the Indians' victory.

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In a game of momentum swings, the last swing went to Hart – along with a coveted Foothill League win.

The Indians went on a 10-2 run over the final two minutes and disrupted Valencia with an uncharacteristic press defense to earn a 75-70 victory Friday evening at Hart High School.

“We did press,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “I’m not a big fan of pressing, but we used it tonight and it paid some dividends for us.”

Trailing 68-65, Brad Wyche hit 2-of-3 free throws for Hart (12-7, 1-1), and the Indians forced a turnover on the next possession before Parker Dominguez took it strong to the hoop for another two points to give Hart the lead.

After another Vikings turnover, Dominguez found Ben Kimble underneath the hoop for another easy basket, and Valencia’s Lonnie Jackson hit a pair of free throws.

But Jackson missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left that would have put the Vikings ahead.

Hart’s Patrick Abbott then hit two free throws and put a stamp on the victory with a layup at the buzzer.

“It was just an emotional game,” Kelly said. “I thought we played real sloppy. On offense we weren’t really good, but I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.”

It didn’t look pretty for Hart in the first quarter, as Valencia (11-6, 0-2) took control once the emotions settled down midway through the period.

The Indians stormed back in the second thanks to a balanced scoring attack led by Wyche, who had six points in the frame. Wyche’s most important contributions, however, came at the other end while defending Jackson, who is among the most complete offensive players in the league.

“I think we did pretty well with him,” Wyche said. “We really worked on making sure he didn’t get open shots, making sure he had to put it on the floor to score. I think we did a real good job with it.”

Jackson led all scorers with 30 points, but the Indians did a good job denying him the ball down the stretch and were able to force turnovers.

“They got the breaks,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. “It happens. They played hard enough to get the breaks, so the breaks went their way.”

Hart closed the second quarter on a 12-2 run and took a four-point halftime lead. Jackson began the second half with an impressive block of Kimble before hitting a hanging shot while being fouled at the other end.

From there, it was a slugfest in which neither team pulled away until the end.

“We came out real strong, and they started to come back, and we closed it up and held it up,” Wyche said.

Dominguez’s 21 points led Hart, while Wyche and Kimble each had 14. Wyche injured his back in the fourth quarter, but toughed it out with the rest of his teammates.

“I give credit to all the kids who really battled back,” Kelly said. “Brad took a spill and could have gone out, but he hit big free throws. That’s what we ask our kids for, perseverance.”

Emmanuel Anumba added 13 points and Brennan Bernardino had nine for Valencia, which falls to 0-2 in the Foothill League and will face Compton Centennial today before resuming league play.

“We’ve got a game to play before our game next Tuesday, and then we play them one at a time,” Collins said. “It’s going to be a tough league all year. You just go at it.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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