The playoffs were full of drama for Hart High this year, and, generally, the ball bounced the Indians’ way.
Whether you’re talking about boys soccer’s first round playoff win over Cabrillo of Lompoc in overtime. Or girls soccer’s three one-goal wins on its way to the semifinals.
The most obvious example came in softball, where Hart had to win its regular season finale just to make the playoffs.
The Indians then went on a five-game win streak to reach the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title game.
Along the way, Hart beat Patriot High of Riverside 9-8 on Abby Sweet’s walk-off home run. It beat Ayala of Chino Hills 6-5 in 12 innings, outlasting one of the Division’s best pitchers.
Hart’s run even ended in dramatic fashion, with Murrieta Mesa launching a two-run, walk-off home run to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning in the championship.
It was an incredible run.
Girls soccer’s run relied heavily on the leg of Taylor Scott. The senior forward scored on a line-drive kick with 2:05 to play against Long Beach Poly in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
She then netted a golden goal in double overtime in the second round against Upland.
It seemed unreal.
Hart’s run even ended in dramatic fashion, with Mater Dei of Santa Ana besting the Indians 1-0 in the semis before two Mater Dei players ran to a fence and attempted to tear down a homemade Hart sign.
Of course, not every Hart team made a deep run. After a strong regular season, the baseball team owned a one-run lead on Vista Murrieta on the road in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs before the Broncos strung two runs together in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win.
After its own epic win, Hart boys soccer fell 2-1 to Division 4’s No. 1 seed Desert Mirage of Thermal in the second round.
Football lost in the first round of playoffs.
So too did boys basketball, but not before, like girls soccer, winning its fourth straight Foothill league title.
Whitten Dominguez and Ben Kaufman were as good a scoring duo as any in the league.
Jess Scheller and Art Thompson led the way for boys golf, the Foothill League’s team champion.
Adam Osowski and Ryan Brimer did the same for the boys swim team, also a Foothill League champion team.
For girls cross country, it wasn’t a league title season, but it was a breakthrough one. The Indians, after regularly finishing at the bottom of the Foothill League before 2015’s turnaround, kept the momentum alive, advancing to the CIF-Southern Section finals for the first time in program history.
John Campbell led a solid season for Hart boys track and field, a group that finished second in the Foothill League at 3-2.
Five most memorable
The Indians won their quarterfinal game by one run and their semifinal 6-5 in 12 innings. Even Hart’s loss in the CIF title game was epic.
After dropping two of its first three Foothill games, Hart won six of its final seven to earn a share of its fourth straight league crown.
Dramatic goals defined these CIF semifinalists and four-time defending league champs. Mater Dei of Santa Ana turned the tables in the semis, but it was a stellar playoff run.
There are no buzzer beaters in swim, but the Indians performance in the final relay of the Foothill League finals lifted them to a repeat league crown.
Led by Jess Scheller and Art Thompson, the Indians beat out West Ranch for the Foothill League team title.
One of the Foothill League’s most dangerous shooters, Dominguez averaged 19 points per game as a junior.
The senior imposed his will at times on defenders, getting to the free throw line regularly. He averaged 17.6 points and five rebounds a game.
A threat with his arm and his legs, the senior quarterback threw for 2,154 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 709 yards and 15 more scores.
Nguyen burst onto the scene as a junior, leading Indian boys soccer with 13 goals. He also dished out three assists.
The junior impacted the game in nearly every way possible. He swooped in for catches in the outfield, hit for power, stole bases and hit for average.
Avila was solid in Foothill League competition and took 23rd at the CIF-SS D2 finals (Hart’s first team appearance in the finals).
The setter/opposite was both the Indians’ tactical and emotional leader this season.
Norwood pitched for the good of the team, but she had a special season with her bat. She led all Southern Section players with 64 hits.
Scott scored the game-winning goal in Hart’s first-round win with two minutes left. She scored a golden goal in double overtime in the second round.
Along with Norwood, Sweet led the Indians to a CIF final for the first time since 2007. She hit a walk-off home run in the quarterfinals.
The Indians won a fourth straight Foothill League title but then found themselves in Division 1AA for playoffs. Hart lost 73-49 to Village Christian of Sun Valley in the first round.
Coach Terra Palmer was confident her team could go to Buena of Ventura in the first round of the D1A playoffs and win. The Indians did, 57-50. But then Hart lost 49-44 to Duarte in the second round.
Hart held a late one-run lead on Vista Murrieta in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs, but the Broncos scored two in the bottom of the seventh to walk off, 6-5.
Girls cross country
The Indians continued an impressive turnaround, advancing through the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 prelims before finishing 15th at finals, the program’s first finals appearance as a team.
The CIF did Hart no favors by pairing it with Division 3 No. 3 seed Cathedral of Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs. The Indians lost 34-17.
The Indians won the Foothill League team title and shot a 411 for 10th place at the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division Team Divisional at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai.
The Indians pushed CIF-Southern Section Division 4 No. 1 seed Desert Mirage of Thermal to the edge in the second round, but fell 2-1.
The Indians walked the wire in postseason play, winning three playoff games by one goal to advance to the Division 1 semis. A loss to Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the semis and a loss to Bullard of Fresno in a SoCal regional ended Hart’s year.
In one of the SCV’s best playoff runs of 2017, Hart never said die on the way to an improbable CIF D3 championship game berth. The Indians lost 3-1 to Murrieta Mesa in eight innings.
The Foothill League’s third-place team lost 14-4 to Oak Park High in a CIF-SS D2 wild-card match.
Hart finished tied for third in the Foothill League and drew eventual-semifinalist Marlborough of Los Angeles in the first round of the D2 playoffs. The Indians lost 3-0.