The Hart girls basketball team opened Monday night’s game against Oak Park with a lot of energy.
Perhaps too much energy.
The Indians were playing so fast that they looked reckless in moments, turning the ball over several times in the opening period, which allowed the Eagles to build a 10-point first quarter lead they never gave up.
Hart (0-4) fell to Oak Park (6-1) at Hart High School, remaining winless in the early going of the season.
“We talked about it going in. Don’t be in a hurry, especially to give the ball away,” Hart head coach Terra Palmer said. “We’re still settling in. It’s going to be a process, but those are the things we have to focus in on now because it’s hurt us early in our season. It’s not really a matter of them not knowing what to do, it’s just a matter of calming down.”
As soon as the Indians started to slow things down, they were able to fight their way back into the game.
Trailing by nine points at halftime, junior guard Emma Allen started to heat up in the third quarter. After being held scoreless in the first half, Allen sank a 3-pointer, made a tough jumper and hit two free throws to bring the Indians within four by the end of the third period.
However, much of the same issues that plagued the Indians in the first quarter came back to haunt them in the final period, as they turned the ball over numerous times and struggled on the defensive glass, giving the Eagles several second-chance buckets.
“I think we’re on the track, we just got to get the train moving,” Palmer said. “The game slows down when you’re comfortable. We have some varsity returners, but we have a lot of kids that this is new to them. As they come into the game and it slows down for them they’ll execute a lot better and we’ll be a lot more successful.”
Allen finished with seven points, seven rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks.
Senior forward Trudy Larkins, who had seven points in the first half, dominated in the post all evening.
Larkins was so physical that she got fouled numerous times, leading to 15 free throw attempts. She made nine of them and finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals.
“Trudy is one of the toughest kids you’ll see. She was always a good defensive player, but now she’s gotten stronger and her offensive game has come around so she creates problems because people foul her,” Palmer said. “She looks small but she’s strong and she does not shy away from the contact.
“A big part of us continuing to grow will be Trudy being big every night. That’s why she’s a leader.”
Senior guard Emily Munoz had eight points, five rebounds and two steals. Her backcourt partner Kaleigh Moss logged seven points and seven boards.
Junior center Evelin Herrera recorded four points and two rebounds and senior guard Madison Knight added three points, a rebound and a block.
Despite trailing for the entirety of the game, Hart never gave in and continued to fight to the final whistle. Palmer was pleased with her team’s effort and knows once they settle in and start to get more comfortable, the wins will soon follow.
“It’s not a lack of effort, it’s just a lack of calm,” she said. “I wasn’t disappointed with the effort but we have to take care of the ball better and you execute better when you’re not in a hurry. This is a team full of kids that have no quit in them. They are working very hard. They don’t give up, they don’t know how.”
Hart will be looking for its first win on Wednesday, Dec. 5 taking on Eagle Rock at 8:30 p.m. in the Burroughs Tournament at John Burroughs High School.