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Prep basketball: Hart’s test of wills

Indians overcome miscues to fend off Culver City in overtime, remain unbeaten

Posted: December 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart guard Lewis Stallworth shoots over Culver City's Julius Wilson in the overtime period on Wednesday at Hart High.

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Culver City’s been quite a test for Hart boys basketball the last two seasons.

Two games, two Centaur buzzer beaters, one Hart victory.

The Indians kept their undefeated run through preleague competition intact, surviving a regulation buzzer beater Wednesday night at Hart High to defeat Culver City 82-78 in overtime.

Hart (10-0) presented every obstacle to itself — poor free-throw shooting, lesser games from its two key players, lots of turnovers, getting bullied on the offensive boards, letting a lead slip away and being overmatched for the first time in athleticism this season.

Two unlikely guards stepped up off the bench, though, in overtime.

Chase White and Frank Lonsinger each hit a 3-pointer in overtime to give the Indians enough cushion to win the game.

“They’re physical — a good challenge,” said White, who scored 10 points in the game and made three 3-pointers, of Culver City. “They were a good test. We need to know how tough we are.”

Hart head coach Tom Kelly said it was the Centaurs who were the tougher team on Wednesday in the Indians’ home opener.

Culver City beat Hart 79-77 on a buzzer beater last season on Jan. 3.

On Wednesday, the Centaurs wouldn’t let the Indians run away, despite Hart grabbing a lead in the first quarter that lasted all the way to the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter when the Centaurs tied the score at 63-63 with a steal by Cameron Robinson and layup.

Culver City (4-9) took a 64-63 advantage after Robinson was fouled and hit one free throw.

The score was tied again at 68-68 when Hart took possession with 30 seconds left.

Four Indians touched the ball as they swung the ball from player to player.

It ended up in White’s hands at the top of the key and he delivered a pinpoint pass to Lewis Stallworth cutting to the basket.

Stallworth laid it up for a 70-68 lead with 3.5 seconds left in regulation.

He led the Indians with 17 points, but was 6-for-16 from the field and 4-for-7 from the free-throw line.

Fellow highly touted guard Myles Franklin scored 15, but was 5-for-13 from the field and 5-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Culver City had to go full court on the next possession and the ball was inbounded to senior Justin Montgomery.

Montgomery took the ball to the wing and hit a 15-foot jumper to tie the score 70-70 at the buzzer.

The 6-foot-4-inch Montgomery burned the Indians all night by attacking the basket and cutting through a trapping defense at times.

He scored a game-high 24 points.

“We were not in this game without what he did on offense,” said Culver City head coach Adam Eskridge.

The Centaurs celebrated like they won the game after the shot.

But Hart had four minutes of overtime to steal the game back.

And the Indians did.

A second-quarter aggressive trap defense was brought back and forced three Centaur turnovers in overtime.

It was a major difference.

Culver City turned the ball over 30 times in the game.

Hart turned the ball over 23 times.

It was two athletic teams going at it offensively most of the game — which created fast play and mistakes.

“I don’t think we came out to play team defense,” Kelly said. “Too many guys were forcing quick shots on offense. If we don’t defend or share the ball better, we’re not very good.”

But the Indians were good enough Wednesday.

A good test for the future.

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