It’s really a lot to ask a high school basketball team to work its way through a season unbeaten.
St. Francis came in having captured seven straight games prior to last Saturday’s title match against Hart in the La Canada Holiday Tournament, but a pair of missed three-pointers were the difference as the Indians survived, 57-54.
The Golden Knights, tabbed No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division III-A, were within a hoop of tying and perhaps winning the game, but long-range jumpers by Kyle Leufroy, who scored 13 points, failed to hit the mark with just under 10 seconds left, and his second attempt also missed as the clock expired.
Evan Crawford’s hoop with about a minute left trimmed Hart’s lead to 57-54, but the Indians (9-0) had enough in the tank.
The Indians, ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division III-AAA, led by a point at the half, but outscored the Golden Knights by nine points in the third quarter.
Hart’s Myles Franklin, who was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player, made a basket with 5:42 left in the third quarter as the Indians never trailed.
St. Francis (7-1) moved ahead 30-29, but Hart tied it at 34-34, before Stanley Wilder’s slam dunk at the end of a 9-0 spurt made it 43-34 with 3:34 showing on the clock.
The fray began with the Golden Knights pulling ahead 15-2, however Hart chipped away and tallied the final eight points of the quarter, including a three-pointer from Luke Maly with just under two minutes left.
Hart got within three points early in the second quarter, but the Golden Knights stretched the lead to seven points on a layup from Noah Willerford and an assist from Markar Agakhanian (12 points).
There’s a reason the Indians are unblemished and ranked where they are, as they responded with an 11-2 run.
In a pool-play game of the La Canada tourney, Willerford scored 12 points, Crawford 11, and Leufroy eight points as the Golden Knights blitzed Bonita 48-35 on Friday.
Crawford provided an all-around effort as he grabbed eight rebounds with five assists and four steals.
Crawford’s theft and pass on Leufroy’s bucket gave the Golden Knights a 39-24 edge early in the fourth quarter.
Bonita fell behind 23-15 with 4:45 left in the second quarter as Crawford scored, and Willerford’s trey made it 29-18 with under one minute left.