Hart girls’ hoops opens league with win at Valencia 

Hart's Arleigh Eav (2) shoots against Village Christian at Hart High on Tuesday, 112123. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A tight game in the first half turned into what was nearly a wire-to-wire victory for Hart Indians girls’ basketball in their Foothill League opener on Tuesday. 

The Indians (2-2, 1-0) topped the Valencia Vikings (1-5, 0-1) on the road, 57-39, behind 19 points from junior Morgan Mack and 14 points from junior Andrea Aina. 

It was a good battle,” Hart head coach Jerry Mike said. “I thought it was fun and the girls responded on the road at Valencia. We came to play and it was a tough game, just how we thought it would be.” 

Mack scored 11 of those points in the first half before finding herself in foul trouble midway through the third quarter. Mike sat his star for the rest of the frame, and his team responded by increasing its lead, taking a 43-33 advantage into the final quarter. 

Mike was able to keep Mack on the bench to start the fourth because of that and give her some extra rest. 

“That was nice because we were gonna sub her in at the start of the fourth and then we said, ‘Well, let’s just keep rolling with this because it’s working fine,’” Mike said. “So, we got her a couple more minutes … We did increase our lead, so that says a lot about her teammates.” 

The Vikings trailed for nearly the entire game, taking a brief 26-24 lead in the second quarter. Mack hit an and-one layup on the ensuing possession and nailed the free throw to put the Indians out in front again, and they never looked back. 

“Morgan’s a player,” Mike said. “She’s all-around. She’s there for us. She’s just a real heady player where even if she’s not scoring, she’s doing a lot of things for us.” 

Valencia was led by senior Libby Oxciano with 14 points and sophomore Cara McKell with 16 points. Both players had three assists, as did freshman Keira McLaughlin. 

While much of Hart’s halfcourt offense ran through Mack, it was senior point guard Arleigh Eav who sparked multiple Hart runs leading the Indians on fastbreaks. Many of those fastbreaks resulted in open 3-point attempts for senior Lily Cornejo. 

Eav finished with six points and five assists. Cornejo knocked down a couple of threes in the first quarter before quieting down, finishing with six points. 

The Indians gave up just 13 points in the entire second half, with Mike praising is team for locking down who he thinks are two of the better players in the league. 

“We locked in a little bit better defensively,” Mike said. “We talked about it at halftime, we knew where McKell and Osciano were. We did a better job with with our weak-side defenders helping out. I mean, those are two of the top seven players in the league. So, I would say our second half, we did a very good job on them.” 

The Indians were set to be in tournament play on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday before getting back to the Foothill League this coming Tuesday at home against Golden Valley (2-0, 0-0). 

Valencia is set to host Saugus (4-2, 0-1) on Friday. 

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