For a moment, it appeared a floater from Valencia’s Ben Grant at the buzzer had finished off a 15-point comeback, leading to a win over Hart.
The clock read triple-zeroes and Valencia’s student section had begun to storm the court.
But that was only for a moment.
Three seconds were added to the clock following Grant’s shot and those three seconds allotted enough time for both teams to head to the free-throw line and, eventually, to overtime.
The Indians went on to beat Valencia 61-55 on its home floor, avenging a loss at Valencia in last season’s regular-season finale, which resulted in a shared Foothill League title.
“The goal as a team was to win every minute,” said Whitten Dominguez, who led Hart (17-7, 5-2 Foothill League) with 20 points and eight rebounds. “We didn’t want to look at the game collectively; just try to win every minute.”
Following Grant’s field goal, Valencia (8-14, 4-3) was issued a technical foul due to its second delay of game infraction of the night, which was called because the crowd stormed the floor.
Dominguez went to the line and hit both free throws to give Hart a 49-48 lead. Valencia drew a foul on the ensuing inbound and Dexter Akanno, who led the Vikings with 25 points, hit 1 of 2 free throws to send the game into overtime.
“The clock ran out, so the fans ran out and we had some people on the floor — we don’t have any control over that,” said Valencia coach Bill Bedgood. “I think it’s a ridiculous way to end the game. Both teams played hard and you got to let the kids decide the game.”
A 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Hart’s Harry Speight in the final minute overtime helped close out the win, giving the Indians a regular-season sweep over the Vikings. All seven of Speight’s points came in overtime. Tre Harrill was second on Hart with 12 points and led with five assists while also grabbing seven rebounds.
“It came down to us finding our rhythm and staying in it,” Speight said. “We found our rhythm in the overtime and ran with it.”
Hart led 32-19 at the half and led 41-26 midway through the third quarter. Valencia’s only lead of the night came after Grant’s shot in the waning seconds of regulation.
“Very proud of this team,” Harrill said. “We had that little spurt at the end where we couldn’t score and Valencia came back. We just got together and talked about having fun and playing our game.”
Valenica dropped its second in a row but holds sole possession of second place in league. C.J. Finley was second on the Vikings with eight points and Josh Assiff led them with seven rebounds to go with seven points.
“We played hard and I think we deserved to win because we played hard down to the wire and were up when there were zeroes on the board,” Bedgood said. “It’s just a tough pill to swallow. I feel for my guys because they battled their tails off.”
Valencia resumes league play Friday at home against West Ranch. Hart will host Canyon (4-18, 0-7).
Saugus 80, West Ranch 57
Adrian McIntyre led Saugus (17-6, 5-2) with 25 points and added eight rebounds. Luke Bodeau had 24 points and also grabbed eight rebounds.
Andrew Austin led West Ranch (13-8, 3-4) with 18 points and Austin Galuppo had 17 points.
Golden Valley 57, Canyon 28
Micah McLaurin had seven points and led Golden Valley (8-14, 3-4) with 13 rebounds. Josh Martin added 12 points.