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Hart boys basketball wins Foothill League

Indians pull away late to clinch an outright league title

Posted: February 11, 2014 10:43 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2014 10:43 p.m.

Hart's Lewis Stallworth yells out in celebration after the Indians defeated the Valencia Vikings Tuesday night at Hart High School.

 

Things weren’t always this rosy at Hart High School.

A coach and his uber-talented bunch weren’t always on the same page. The players complained inwardly. The coach complained outwardly.

But in the biggest sign of solidarity that this basketball program possibly has ever seen, 16 basketball players and a coaching staff can now say they are Foothill League champions.

The Hart Indians boys basketball team defeated the Valencia Vikings 82-68 on Tuesday at Hart High School to clinch the outright Foothill League title — a program first since 2007.

“We’ve done a good job of getting everyone to buy in,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “Playing less minutes, having a defensive role, having a rebounding role.”

Two players in particular were key to the buying-in process — Indians point guard Lewis Stallworth and forward Davis Koppenhaver.

Stallworth went from shoot-first guard last season to offense creator as a senior in 2014.

Koppenhaver went from not returning to play basketball to muscle in the paint and sixth man of the year.

It was Koppenhaver who swung the momentum in this game.

Valencia (19-7, 6-3) jumped ahead quickly in the most fast-paced first quarter of the Foothill League season.

After a late, last-minute avalanche of scoring, the Vikings led 32-26.

With less offense in the second quarter, Valencia led 45-40.

Valencia’s Malik McCowan put an exclamation point on the Vikings’ first half by blocking a last-second, three-point attempt by Chase White so hard that the thud reverberated around the packed gym.

Then Koppenhaver took over.

He hit four second-half 3-pointers — the first two coming in the third quarter during an 18-0 Hart run that gave the Indians (24-2, 9-0) a 58-45 lead with 3:16 to play in that frame.

“They keyed on (teammate Myles Franklin), which left the drive and kick open,” Koppenhaver said on how he found success.

Franklin led all scorers with 22 points in the game, with 10 coming in the first quarter.

“We came out really calm in the second half,” Franklin said. “Coach said it’s a 32-minute game (at halftime), and in the second half we hit shots.”

Valencia didn’t have that same fortune.

The Vikings made just 3-of-16 shots from the field in the third quarter.

In the other three, Valencia made 25-of-47.

“In the second half, Davis hit those threes, and that’s what changed it. It took all the momentum with those,” said Valencia guard Angel Cardenas, who led the Vikings with 20 points.

Valencia got 14 points from McCowan and 11 from Dakota Abbott.

Frank Lonsinger scored 10 points for Hart and Stallworth — his third year on the varsity, like Koppenhaver — scored 14 points.

Now they are champions.

“Has a nice ring to it,” Stallworth said.

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