Hart shared last season’s Foothill League title with Valencia but this time around, the Indians are feeling a bit more selfish.
To set up a battle for the outright league title Friday against Saugus, Hart first had to beat West Ranch Tuesday night at home.
Whitten Dominguez, who led all scorers with 24 points, knocked down a 3 with less than five seconds left to seal a 51-47 Hart victory, avenging a loss to the Wildcats earlier in the season.
Hart (19-7, 7-2 Foothill League) and Saugus (19-6, 7-2) will meet Friday at Saugus, with the winner also claiming the league title.
“We don’t want to share; we want it all to ourselves,” Dominguez said of a league title. “That’s what it came down to tonight.”
Andrew Austin knocked down a pair of free throws with 58 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to cut Hart’s lead to 48-47. Austin led West Ranch with 13 points.
After a shot-clock violation against Hart was waved off, Dominguez hit the game-clinching 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining.
“Our guys did everything I asked of them tonight,” said West Ranch Sean McKillop. “I walked into the locker room and told them this one is one me. … It came down to one big shot from their best player and sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.”
West Ranch (14-9, 4-5) led 20-18 at the half but Hart recaptured the lead at 22-20 after baskets from Dominguez and Tre Harrill just a minute into the third quarter.
“We didn’t hit shots early and they switched everything, so we just tried to get the ball down the middle of the floor,” said Hart coach Tom Kelly. “We did a better job of that in the second half.”
The Indians entered the fourth quarter with a 40-35 lead and led by as many as eight points in the final frame before the Wildcats made it a one-point game with under a minute left in the game.
“They had us on a couple of minutes and played really good basketball but we came in and finished it,” said Luca Robinson, who was second on Hart with eight points and had a team-high six rebounds. “We’re going to get focused because we have two really big days of practice before Friday.”
Austin Galuppo led West Ranch with 10 rebounds to go with six points. Deaken Stangl was second on the team with nine points.
West Ranch hosts Golden Valley Friday to close out the regular season.
Valencia 64, Golden Valley 56
Richard Kawakami, who transferred from Golden Valley (8-16, 3-6) in November, hit a layup in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime.
Jayden Trower led Valencia (10-14, 6-3 Foothill League) with 16 points as the Vikings retained third place in the league standings. Ben Grant added 14 points and Dexter Akanno had 10 points.
Valencia travels to play Canyon on Friday.
Saugus 71, Canyon 44
Adrian McIntyre led Saugus with 26 points. Tyler Mehl, who hit six 3s, and Luke Bodeau each had 18 points. Dylan Spring added 10 points. Canyon moved to 4-21, 0-10.