For a team that’s only two years removed from a trip to the CIF State playoffs, it’s important to have a collection of players who are comfortable in the spotlight.
The Hart boys basketball team has just that.
The Indians return a core of five seniors, who have been a part of teams that have won Foothill league titles, played in Southern Section title games, competed at the state level and are accustomed to the sometimes-raucous crowds at league games.
“They’ve seen everything,” said Hart coach Tom Kelly.
Senior Whitten Dominguez headlines the group of seniors. Last year’s co-Foothill League Player of the Year is nursing a left shoulder injury and is expected to return in late December, though no official timetable has been set.
“He gives us an identity,” Kelley said of Dominguez, who’s signed to play at Biola. “He’s going to start right away. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him four or five practices to get him back up to speed before he plays in a game.”
Caleb Waldeck, an All-Foothill League honorable mention last year, and Cory Sveiven are slated to lead Hart’s perimeter game, which Kelly expects to heavily lean on.
“We have a lot of players in that 6-foot-2 range, so we don’t really have actual positions,” Kelly said. “We run a lot of motion and we’re going to be perimeter-oriented, shooting.”
The Indians will look to Tre Harrill to be the facilitator of their perimeter game. Harrill showed flashes of his scoring prowess in the team’s win over Crescenta Valley on Tuesday in the Warrior Classic, leading them with 17 points.
“He can do a little bit of everything,” Kelly said. “He’s so unselfish and that’s the best part of his game. He’s always working to get his teammates open.”
Hart shared the league title last year with Valencia, which returns four starters. Kelly is expecting another deeply talented Foothill League, as five of the six teams were 3-2 through the first round of league play last season.
“I always say it, but it’s a dogfight,” Kelly said. “All the schools are so close to each other, there really isn’t a home-court advantage.
“Every game is a rivalry game.”
Luca Robinson rounds out Hart’s senior nucleus. The 6-foot-4 forward, who transferred from West Ranch prior to last season, serves as the team’s “big man,” though he can play all over the floor. Kelly said he will be much more involved on the offensive side of the ball this year.
The Indians finished 18-9 last season (7-3 in the Foothill League) and lost to Village Christian in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1AA tournament.