Taking on Calabasas on Thursday in its second game of The Warrior Classic at Bishop Alemany High School, Hart boys basketball came out with an aggression that was unmatched in the early going.
Beginning the game in a full-court press, the Indians overwhelmed the Coyotes’ points guards with their constant ball pressure and off-ball help.
Down for most for the game, the Coyotes were able to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, defeating Hart 75-66.
“I thought we played really well for about 27 minutes,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “But we gave up four or five offensive rebounds that lead to baskets late in the game. That’s just a toughness thing. Rebounding is not a skill it’s just about being tough.”
Julian Verrier and Jesse Barrientos carried the scoring load for Hart (1-6) in the first quarter with Barrientos driving inside the lane and dumping it off to Verrier for easy two-footers.
Verrier led the Indians in scoring with 12 points and Barrientos followed with 11 points in the contest.
With Isaac Deedon and Joey Harand beginning the game a little flat, Garrett Lewis was able to create things with his crisp passing and hard drives into the lane, sparking a 6-0 run for the Indians.
Harand finished with 11 points and six rebounds while Deedon finished with nine points and three rebounds.
“We have never been a one-man team, everybody has a role,” Kelly said. “Lewis was really good by attacking the rim and with a couple 3-point opportunities. We need that from him.”
Heading into halftime, Hart led 35-29.
Calabasas (5-2) was able to cut into the Indians’ lead in the third quarter by getting second chance opportunities and knocking down crucial 3’s.
Dillon Barrientos answered for Hart by using his quickness to get in the lane, spinning and using his off-hand for the easy layup or finding Lewis down-low.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Indians held a four-point lead at 52-48.
Having the lead and in the bonus with under seven minutes to go in the game Hart looked like it was in line for the win after and a two-point bucket for Dillon.
Dillon finished the game with 10 points and three steals.
Doing a great job of cutting along the baseline, the Calabasas guards were able to learn from their early mistakes and find their bigs down low.
Tying the game at 57-57 with just over five minutes left, for the first time since the first quarter, the Coyotes hit a free-throw to go up by one point the next time down the court and never looked back.
Hart gets another crack at a win in The Warrior Classic as it faces off against host Bishop Alemany on Friday at 5 p.m.