Under ordinary circumstances, Hart High boys basketball coach Tom Kelly would have seen his team into the locker room, single-file, immediately after the buzzer.
Instead, the team lingered in the rambunctious crowd that had formed on the court. Because Friday night’s game wasn’t an exactly ordinary circumstance.
The Indians took down West Ranch 60-46 at home and further cemented their place as the top team in the Foothill League.
PHOTOS: West Ranch boys hoops at Hart
The difference between this game and the one three weeks ago? The one where the Wildcats won by one point on a free throw with two seconds left in the game?
“Experience,” said Hart’s Whitten Dominguez. “We’ve gotten so much better. We came out nervous (before). We have new people on varsity, so it was their first away varsity game and so we came out much more ready and wanting revenge (this time).”
The Indians (16-7 overall, 5-2 in Foothill) led 18-4 in the first quarter, then 35-25 in the second.
West Ranch (12-11 overall, 4-4 in Foothill) had a strong showing the third, however, led by Suren Aghazadian as he trucked through the defense.
“He’s just got good feet and he moves around the basket well and he scores with both hands so he’s a hard guard,” said Kelly.
Aghazadian ended the night with a team-high 14 points.
Later in the third, Hart’s Renz Brual, who had shot for 10 points in the first half, left the game with a knee injury.
“Renz is a great player no doubt, but we don’t really notice when somebody (new) comes out,” said Dominguez. “We just keep playing. But obviously … he’s a great scorer.”
Wildcats were within three points of tying up the score heading into the fourth quarter, a run capped by an Austin Galuppo 3-pointer and an Aghazadian bucket.
Dominguez, however, put on a clinic in the final frame. He scored 13 of his 18 points in that timespan, while the defense only allowed West Ranch three points.
Ben Kaufman also had 18 points for the Indians.
“We’ve been wanting to get them back since the last game we played them,” Dominguez said. “We just came out strong and it showed in everybody collectively.”