Depth, teamwork returns Hart to final

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first_imgDepth has been one of Hart High’s girls’ basketball team’s strengths, and the Indians hope their team-first mentality can carry them against Foothill League rival Canyon in the Southern Section Div. I-A championship Saturday at the Pyramid at Long Beach State. Starters Megan Ford (knee) and Tatianna Thomas (ankle) have missed extended time with injuries, but it hasn’t slowed Hart (26-4), which has won 14 in a row by an average margin of 26.3 points. Among the fill-ins has been senior Amanda Sreden, whose hustle and determination has kept her in the starting lineup in place of Thomas, who still isn’t 100 percent. Ford is back after missing 14 games. “Once I got a chance to be in the starting lineup, I just knew I had to step it up,” Sreden said. “The playoffs are do-or-die, and everyone wants to win. Now that we’re in the championship game, it’s something I’ve been working toward all year. You don’t get opportunities like this very often, so you’ve got to take advantage.” A look back: Canyon performed poorly in both regular-season meetings with Hart, losing 43-29 Jan. 20 at Canyon and 50-28 in the finale Feb. 9 at Hart. Perhaps the unseeded Cowboys provide a scare as the tournament’s Cinderella team. They knocked off second-seeded Buena of Ventura 37-36 in the first round and followed with three more playoff victories by five or fewer points. “It’s going to be a lot tougher this time because Canyon is on a roll, and they’re peaking at the right time, which is something you always want to do,” Munroe said. “That first-round upset at Buena gave Canyon a nice boost and a lot of confidence.” Hart has defeated Canyon in their past 11 meeting since a 63-58 loss in 2000. Since Canyon joined the Foothill League in 1992-93, Hart leads the series 27-1. The big picture: Canyon center Cheryl Stevens figures to cause Hart problems because she’s at least five inches taller, at 6-foot-4, than every Indians player. She is coming off an impressive performance in Tuesday’s 56-55 overtime upset of J.W. North of Riverside, totaling eight points, 14 rebounds, five steals – and 10 blocked shots. A spot player until this season, Stevens, who has committed to Princeton, averages 9.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.5 blocks and 2.6 steals. On the rise: Hart has cracked Cal-Hi Sports’ top 20 for the first time in the post-Ashlee Trebilcock era, climbing to No. 19 this week. Presale tickets: Tickets to Saturday’s game are available at Hart. Canyon is not selling presale tickets. Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Taylor Lilley, Hart’s all-time 3-point leader, is averaging nearly 20 points per game, so Sreden isn’t under pressure to score – she’s averaging about five points per game. She instead is focused on passing and defense. She’s had 15 assists in Hart’s past two playoff games and helped the Indians hold opponents to less than 40 points per game this season. Sreden also leads the team in free-throw percentage, making 85 percent of her shots. “I call Amanda my jack-of-all-trades,” coach Dave Munroe said. “She’s one of our best passers and just a great team player. She’s just worked her butt off in practice and continued to work hard so she’d be ready to go whenever we needed her, and now we really need her.” Sreden also is a talented softball player, but she figures to miss the first part of the softball season, which begins Saturday. She’s looking for the Indians to win the title after losing in finals in three of the past four seasons, and Hart and Canyon (23-7) then have Southern California Regionals for the state championship. “Yes, softball is starting, but for now I’d rather be playing basketball,” Sreden said. “It’s going to be our fourth time reaching the final, and the fourth time is the charm.” last_img

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