With 18 seconds left in the game, Hart girls basketball held a narrow, three-point lead over Canyon High School.
Leila Uribe approached the free-throw line as the crowd noise in the Canyon gym drowned out the referee’s whistle. Uribe heard nothing.
“I just tell myself I don’t hear anything,” Uribe said. “It’s really quiet. It’s really quiet, peaceful and then it works.”
Uribe easily sank two free throws to secure the Indians’ 44-39 win over the Cowboys on Tuesday night, marking the first victory over Canyon since Jan. 15, 2015.
The win is significant not only because it snaps a losing streak, but also because head coach Terra Palmer is a Canyon alumna. Hart senior Emma Allen’s grandfather, Paul Broneer, is also an assistant coach for the Cowboys.
“It’s a little more personal,” Palmer said. “We always want to win, but for the kids, it’s a little bit more because they just want to give Emma (a win) and they got it tonight.”
Canyon (15-6 overall, 2-1 in Foothill League) was without 6-foot-3 big Chidina Okafor, but still appeared to have the edge as they gained an early lead in the first quarter, but Hart (8-8, 2-1) fought back to tie the game at 10-10 at the end of the frame.
The Indians began to pull away in the second quarter. Kiki Taufaasau went in for a layup with 5:10 left in the second quarter to give Canyon a 12-10 advantage, but Uribe countered with a 3-pointer at the four-minute mark to put the Indians back in the lead.
Uribe finished the night with a game-high 15 points.
“I’m very aggressive,” Uribe said of her playing style. “Almost like a dog, a pit bull without a leash. Like before the game I try to picture myself taking off a little leash and going at it and like, just ruthless.”
Evelin Herrera capitalized on a second-chance opportunity for two points less than two minutes later. Her aggressive play on offense and defense gave Hart a chance early on.
“She battled out the whole game,” Palmer said of Herrera. “She’s got so much darn heart so yeah, she was huge for us and all the kids were, but Evelin really, I think almost willed us to that in the first half.”
Hart held a 19-15 lead going into halftime, but it was enough to keep the Indians motivated in the second half.
Laney Grider, who finished with 14 points, made two layups to start the third quarter. Allen drained a three and made a layup with four minutes to go in the third quarter, then Herrera made a layup to give Hart a 29-18 advantage. Uribe made a layup to round out the third-quarter scoring for the Indians.
Canyon came out hard in the last quarter. With 4:56 left, Lucy Collins hit a jumper then scored from under the net to cut the deficit to 39-30. Allen made a three to give Hart some breathing room, but the Cowboys went on a scoring run that included four more points from Collins, who finished the night with 13 points total.
Despite the run, Hart was able to draw a foul at the opportune time and Uribe made her two free throws to keep the Indians in the lead for good.
“At halftime, we really talked about just stepping on their throats because we know they’re not easy to beat,” Uribe said. “They definitely want to get us back, so we have to come back even harder than the first half.”
Hart next plays at West Ranch at 5 p.m. on Friday and Canyon hosts Saugus at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Saugus 60, Golden Valley 28
Eden MacKenzie scored 15 points in the win for Saugus (16-4, 3-0). Libbie McMahan added 13 points, Monique Febles had 12 and Riley Phipps had 10 points. Coach Jason Conn said Maliah Sourgose was “everywhere on defense.”
Golden Valley (6-10, 0-3) plays at Valencia on Friday at 5 p.m.
Valencia 67, West Ranch 17
The Vikings defense held the Wildcats to four points and had balanced scoring in the first half according to coach Kevin Honaker.
Valencia is 12-8 overall and 2-1 in the Foothill League, while West Ranch is 1-10 and 0-3.