For the first eight minutes of warm-ups Friday night at Saugus High, Hart’s Whitten Dominguez couldn’t find his shooting touch.
From there, the ball touched little but the bottom of the net.
Dominguez scored a game-high 26 points, mostly of the midrange variety, in a 57-48 win over Saugus, avenging a one-point loss earlier this month in the Foothill League opener.
“I had missed almost every shot for the first eight minutes,” Dominguez said. “I hadn’t made a single shot, then all of a sudden, I could just feel it. It felt really natural, like instinct.”
PHOTOS: Hart boys basketball defeats Saugus
Dominguez’s silky jumper kept the Centurions at arm’s length most of the night, but it was Hart’s defense that finally bowled Saugus over.
The Indians (15-7 overall, 4-2 in Foothill) held the Cents without a point for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, building a 10-point lead on Tre Harrill’s drive, spin and finish.
“We got the stops we needed to get,” said Hart coach Tom Kelly. “We switched out on a lot of their screens, and we took them out of what they wanted to do, which we didn’t do in the first meeting.”
Saugus (14-8, 3-3) scored 73 points against Hart on Jan. 10.
Friday, the Cents finished with six points on 2-of-10 shooting in the fourth. It marked the first time Saugus didn’t match a Hart run.
The Indians sprinted to a 13-4 lead in the first quarter, but Saugus closed the frame 6-0 to trail by two.
Hart led by five in the second. The Cents trailed by two at half.
Saugus tied the game four times in the first three quarters but never led, and Hart opened the fourth on a 9-0 run to pull away.
“I thought our guys played hard. I just thought (Hart) played harder,” said Saugus coach Bill Bedgood. “…They brought a higher level of intensity and effort than we saw in the first game, and we weren’t able to match that tonight.”
Zach Phipps led Saugus with 19 points. He scored 13 in the first half on 5-of-8 shooting but made three of seven shots down the stretch.
Cent Anthony McIntyre followed with 12 points.
Hart’s Ben Kaufman scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter, while teammate Luca Robinson added seven in the game.
Dominguez made his first four shots and 11-of-19 on the night.
“He was real aggressive,” Kelly said. “We keep harping on our guys, ‘Be the aggressor.’ If you’re going to make mistakes, make aggressive mistakes.”
There weren’t many.
Hart has won four of its last five in league.
Saugus is 0-3 at home.