Senior Night for the Canyon High boys basketball team nearly became spoiler night for Hart.
The Indians relinquished a 13-point, first-quarter lead Tuesday and found themselves trailing by four with 3:30 remaining, before Ben Kaufman and Renz Brual combined for seven consecutive points down the stretch to rescue Hart.
The Indians held Canyon scoreless the rest of the way and a potential tying 3-pointer by Camden Apsay fell short as time expired, allowing Hart to escape with a 58-55 victory to take over sole possession of first place in the Foothill League.
“It is definitely riveting being in those situations,” said Kaufman, who had a game-high 17 points, including two free throws with 59 seconds left to give Hart a 56-55 lead.
“Their crowd was so loud and both teams were going back and forth in the last three minutes. It wasn’t the prettiest way to win, but I’m just glad we did.”
Canyon (5-18 overall, 0-7 Foothill), which lost its eighth in a row against Hart (16-7, 5-2), received back-to-back 3-pointers from Yvan Yomba and Jack Yerem to take a 55-51 lead, but the Cowboys missed their final five shots.
“We had a couple of 50/50 balls that didn’t go our way and give Hart a lot of credit because they hit some big shots and knocked down clutch free throws when they needed to,” said Canyon coach Alex Dunwoody, whose team suffered its 12th consecutive setback.
“I thought Camden had a really good look, but sometimes the ball goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. He’s a senior and we wanted him with the ball in that situation. Next time, he’ll knock it down.”
Brual gave Hart a three-point lead following two free throws with 13 seconds left.
“It’s a big deal at the end of the game when you are one of the guys who is being depended on to get stops or to score to put the team in a winning position,” said Brual, who had 10 of his 14 points in the second half.
“This is a testament to our defense. Having all of our guys on the same page when we needed a stop allowed us to win this game.”
Yomba led Canyon with 12 points and eight rebounds, with Apsay adding nine points and seven rebounds. Whitten Dominguez had 10 points, with Tre Harrill contributing seven points and eight rebounds for Hart.