Hart girls’ basketball finishes league undefeated, wallops Canyon 

The Hart girls basketball team celebrates after winning the championship against Canyon at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Hart Indians girls’ basketball put a staple on its Foothill League championship on Friday. 

The Indians defeated their rival Canyon Cowboys, 65-48, to finish off league play with a perfect record on senior night.  

The Indians (22-5, 12-0) were led by junior Morgan Mack, who lit up the Cowboys (14-13, 9-3) in the first half, when she scored 20 of her 27 points.  

Hart was better all over the court, with solid ball movement, strong outside shooting and of course ferocious defense that fueled three 7-0 runs in the first half alone.  

To Mack, that’s just Hart defense.  

“That’s Hart defense,” Mack said. “That’s what we do at practice every single day. We come in, work hard and we deserve this. I’m so happy for us.” 

Morgan Mack (13) of Hart drives to the basket against Canyon defenders Arianna Rodriguez (12) and Josie Regez (23) at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Mack also added nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals in the win. 

The ball movement remained fluid in the second half, but senior Lily Cornejo found herself on the end of numerous open shots.  

“We’re really good at sharing the ball, making that extra pass and just knowing where to give the ball to,” Cornejo said. “It’s a team effort for sure.” 

Lily Cornejo (21) of Hart aims a three-pointer against Canyon at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cornejo added 10 of her 15 points in the second half and totaled six rebounds and four assists. 

Hart aimed to slow down Canyon guards Josie Regez and Isabella Escribano. The freshman Escribano was steady throughout the contest and finished the night with 20 points and a pair of assists.  

Regez didn’t get a ton of shots off and was limited to 12 points and five assists. The Indians hounded the ball around the perimeter knowing if any of the Cowboys had space, they’d fire up a shot.  

Mack hit the first of three buzzer beaters in the game as she scored on a tough finish at the rim in the first quarter. Hart point guard Arleigh Eav put her team up by 18 going into the half with a buzzer-beat lay-in.  

Eav finished with 12 points, three steals and three assists. 

Arleigh Eav (2) of Hart drives down the court against Canyon defender Isabella Escribano (25) at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Canyon came out fighting in the third quarter and narrowly chipped away at the lead. The Cowboys then closed out the quarter with a Koko Booker deep 3-pointer that fired up Canyon heading into the fourth quarter. 

Booker found some success operating at the top of the key. The senior scored nine points and added four assists through some tough defense from Mack and Hart junior Janelle Boozer. 

“I thought we were pretty crisp offensively for the most part,” said Hart coach Jerry Mike. “I thought we were steady, disciplined and really just focused on the next play. I was impressed with them.” 

The Cowboys gave different defensive looks throughout the game, swapping from man to zone defense. However, Mike’s team’s ball movement proved enough to find a great shot on dozens of possessions. 

“We like to play that way,” Mike said. “It doesn’t happen all the time but when we play like that, the extra pass makes a good shot into a better shot. That’s how we like to play and I thought the ball was popping around.” 

The win gave Mike his first-ever 12-0 season in the Foothill League, and his first perfect finish since the 2016 season when he coached Valencia. 

Andrea Aina (40) of Hart pulls down a rebound against Canyon defender Taylor Ford (5) at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

Both teams could meet for a third time in the playoffs as the two storied programs head into the Division 1 playoffs. Hart will ride especially high into the postseason as a winner of 12 in a row. 

“I’m stoked, Division 1, even the first round will be a tough game,” Mike said. “It’s definitely going to challenge them. We’ll see what happens, it’s a loaded division. We’ve been good for a few years now so that’s where they put us and we’ll meet it head-on.” 

Canyon nearly came back in round one with Hart earlier this season in another Indians’ win. A victory on Friday would’ve been for bragging rights as the two were already solidified as the champion and runner-up in league.  

Janelle Boozer (5) of Hart pulls down a rebound against Canyon defender Kodia Booker (21) at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I feel like there were a lot of excuses from the first game but we came out and the debate’s over,” Mack said. 

The Hart girls carried their momentum and energy from the win into the boys’ game that followed, and delivered a memorable performance of the national anthem. 

Both teams enter the CIF Division 1 postseason this week. 

The Canyon team celebrates as they score in the final second of the third quarter against Hart at Hart High on Friday, 020224. Dan Watson/The Signal

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