The Hart boys basketball team took a step in the right direction on Friday night, facing Alemany on the road in its third game of The Warrior Classic.
While the end result wasn’t in the Indians favor, as they lost 79-74 to the Warriors, Hart head coach Tom Kelly was pleased with the energy and passion his team displayed.
Hart (1-7) was tenacious on defense and aggressive on offense, keeping up against a much bigger Alemany (6-5) team.
“I’m proud of the effort. We battled. We led for damn near 30 minutes of the game,” Kelly said. “Our kids played so hard. One or two box outs here and there, one or two shots in the paint and we get out of here with the win.”
Alemany used a full-court press from the early going to try to pressure Hart into making mistakes. It worked on one or two occasions, but the Indians were able to break the press for most of the game by making good passes and by taking care of the ball.
Guards Isaac Deedon and Jesse Barrientos were often tasked with bringing the ball up and did so efficiently, speeding past Alemany defenders to get to the hoop.
Senior Joey Harand also did his part in breaking the Alemany press, but more impressive on Friday night was his scoring ability.
Harand had 12 points in the first half making 4-of-6 3-pointers, He then came out in the second half and hit two more in a row to give Hart a 43-30 lead in the early going of the third period.
He finished the game with 29 points (7-of-11 from downtown), two rebounds and two steals.
“He was phenomenal,” Kelly said of Harand. “We can’t expect him to score 29 each night, but he took good shots, he led the team, he handled the ball and played good defense.”
Senior Julian Verrier was Hart’s second-leading scorer, finishing with 15 points, three rebounds and a steal.
Senior Braden Fuller added 10 points and three rebounds and sophomore Dillon Barrientos logged four points and four assists.
Deedon finished with four points, three rebounds and three assists and Jessie Barrientos had five points, one assist and a steal.
The Indians have just one win so far on the season, but their record is slightly deceiving. Hart has a tough preseason schedule and has played nine games in 15 days, leaving minimal time for practice.
Kelly said he’d rather schedule tough opponents in out-of-conference play to help prepare his team for Foothill League competition.
“We’ve always wanted to play the best competition,” he said. “If we take some losses in the preseason then hopefully that will teach us how to play in league. We’ve just got to close one and it’s coming.”
Hart will conclude The Warrior Classic on Saturday, taking on Viewpoint at 2:30 p.m. at Heritage Christian High School.