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There and back again

After two years in South Carolina, teammates are back helping Hart win

Posted: February 24, 2009 12:35 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hart forward Parker Dominguez.

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A small crowd files into a cramped gymnasium as a high school boys basketball game is set to tip off.

The stands are mostly filled by parents and family, with a few students peppered throughout. The visiting team just traveled an hour and a half to arrive, and the game begins with little fanfare.

It's very different from Foothill League basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley, but it's a reality in Chapin, South Carolina.

And that's where Hart teammates Patrick Abbott and Parker Dominguez spent a good portion of their high school careers.

"The place we lived in was a pretty small town," Dominguez says. "We had two major intersections, a four-way stop sign. You could go from one end to the other in three minutes."

Chapin is a middle-income community that rests about 30 minutes outside of Columbia, South Carolina, and had a population of less than 700 as of the 2000 census.

The Abbott and Dominguez families, which are very close, felt like Chapin was the perfect spot to relocate and did so within the same two-week period in June 2006.

"Our parents wanted to move to the East Coast because they thought it would be a better place," Abbott says. "We were both just kind of along for the ride."

The families bought houses on Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre body of water bordering Chapin.

"If you wanted to hang out with your friends, you'd hop on your jet ski out back," Abbott says. "That part was pretty great. We'd just go to the back yard, walk on the dock and go hang out with everybody on the lake."

Abbott and Dominguez, who have been best friends their entire lives, didn't have much trouble making friends at Chapin High School. Both played football in addition to basketball, but there was just something missing on the court.

"Basketball down there wasn't as hard," Dominguez says. "When we were playing, we kind of had this coach who put up a scoreboard and had us scrimmage the entire practice. Basketball down there is not as good as it is (in California). Not even close."

The Hart boys basketball team actually played Chapin High at a tournament at the University of North Carolina in the summer of 2007.

A few months later in December of 2007, Hart got Dominguez back after his family returned to the Santa Clarita Valley. Abbott joined him when his family moved back in June 2008.

"The sports weren't very adequate, and both of our families are sports-oriented, so we thought it would be better to come back and finish out our sports programs," Abbott says.

Hart head coach Tom Kelly welcomed them back, having seen them on the freshman team during the 2005-06 season.

"They're happy to be back to play, but also to see all their friends growing up here," Kelly says. "I think it was better for them to get back in an environment that they were very happy with before they left. It's hard to uproot kids when they get into high school."

Now, Abbott and Dominguez are two of the biggest reasons that Hart will face top-seeded Canyon of Anaheim in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIAA quarterfinals later today.

They're also two of the most mature players in the Santa Clarita Valley, whether Abbott is breaking down defenses off the dribble or Dominguez is making the hustle plays in the post.

"You definitely change a lot from (age) 14 to 17," Dominguez says. "When I came back, I was a different person and had different interactions with people. I'm really glad we moved back here."

Abbott shares that sentiment.

"I love California a lot more," he says. "It's just a faster pace. Back (in Chapin), it's a lot slower, and everybody knew everybody. Now it's more of a bigger city. I can go to the beach whenever I want and it's always sunny."


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