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Hart boys hoops: perfect from top to bottom

Hart High pulled off the incredible feat of going undefeated at every level of its boys program

Posted: February 15, 2014 11:07 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2014 11:07 p.m.

Year in and year out, Foothill League boys basketball is a gauntlet.

It’s a rarity to have a team run through the 10-game gauntlet undefeated.

The last time it happened prior to this season was 1997 with Hart High being that team.

But this year’s Hart boys basketball team impressively pulled it off.

Yet there was an accomplishment that stands out maybe even more than that.

The Hart boys basketball program — top to bottom — went undefeated in Foothill League play.

That’s 10-0 at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels.

Varsity head coach Tom Kelly, never one to puff out his chest over an accomplishment, finally came around to acknowledging just how special and unique the 30-0 mark is.

“It’s a really neat thing for the kids and the program, for the parents, the whole school to have a year like this,” Kelly said.

Profound, that comment is not.

And he really couldn’t pinpoint the reason why the program had so much success this season other than to say the players and coaches have gotten better.

To continue the simplicity of his notion on success, he said, “In theory, we want to be very similar, but I don’t tell (freshman team head coach) Brad (Wyche) or (JV head coach Larry) Keys who to play. We try and do four things at all levels — we play man defense, we run a motion offense, we generally take care of the ball, and we try to be a good free throw shooting team down the stretch.”

But there are things that are clear from top to bottom that are other reasons for the overall success of the program.

Starting with coaches, Hart boys basketball is a clear team effort at the coaching level with an unchanging varsity staff and lower level coaches who contribute to the varsity.

“Tom really has, like any good CEO, incorporated a shared philosophy,” Keys said. “If you see something as basketball coaches, as basketball guys, he’s not seeing, he wants our contribution, our input. Once you see him use that input, you’re more apt to give more.”

That’s not to say that doesn’t go around at the other schools in the Foothill League, where lower-level coaches are involved in the process, as well.

So there has to be other differences, and, in the end, it has a lot to do with the players.

Hart’s varsity has the most talented group in the Santa Clarita Valley, led by the leading candidate for Foothill

Player of the Year Lewis Stallworth, fellow guard Myles Franklin, a sixth man in Davis Koppenhaver who would be other teams’ best player and a roster that is 16 deep.

At the JV level, Keys has an exciting 6-foot-6-inch wing player Preston Dominguez, whose brothers Rendon and Parker are former varsity players, and a player he described as the best defensive player in the program in Ryan Kaneshiro.

He also has a varsity point guard in waiting in Dante Matera and a well-rounded player in Chad Donohoe.

All are sophomores, all are talented.

The freshman team has its own stockpile of talent as well.

One reason why the program is bursting with talent could be a reason why Hart High in general has been an improved athletic program as a whole.

Hart High has the second lowest amount of students of the six Foothill League schools (Golden Valley having the least amount).

The William S. Hart Union High School District has allowed for Hart High to have open enrollment in recent years, which gives kids an easier route to transfer to or attend the Newhall school.
However, kids still have to play the games.

And no program has been better at winning them than the Indians.

Consider this fact to just how good Hart has been about winning — the freshman and JV teams haven’t lost a Foothill game since 2011.

There are kids in the program who have never lost a Foothill League game.


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