Harvard’s Turnaround Complete, Shares Title
After his team defeated Chaminade High, 56-52, on Friday night to earn a share of the Santa Fe League basketball championship, Harvard Coach Greg Hilliard was lifted onto the shoulders of his players and taken to the locker room for an impromptu shower.
Perhaps the idea was to wash away the memories of last year’s 0-10 Pioneer League season. Or maybe the Saracens were simply taking a cue from the New York Giants and dousing their coach with water instead of Gatorade.
“At least water comes out easier,” Hilliard said.
The win at Chaminade completed an amazing one-year turnaround for the Harvard basketball program. Last year the Saracens were 4-17 and didn’t win a league game. In Hilliard’s second season, they moved to the Santa Fe League and finished 12-2, as did Chaminade.
Because they defeated Chaminade (16-7) in both league meetings, Harvard (15-5) will be the Santa Fe’s top-seeded team when the Southern Section 1-A Division playoffs begin next week.
“I never imagined this in my wildest dreams,” said guard Andy Bell, in his third year on the Harvard varsity. “Coach Hilliard is the key. He made this possible.”
Give a small assist to Steve Green. Despite facing a defense designed especially for him, the Harvard forward scored 25 points, hitting 9 of 15 shots and some big free throws down the stretch.
Harvard, down 28-23 at halftime, came out strong in the third period, shutting out Chaminade for the first 4:15 of the quarter and taking a 35-28 lead. Harvard collapsed on Chaminade center Kevin Black and dared the Eagles to shoot from the outside. The tactic worked for a time, but Black, who led Chaminade with 26 points and 12 rebounds, scored 11 in the fourth quarter to bring the Eagles back.
It became a free throw contest from there. Green and Mike Lowe responded, each sinking four of six attempts in the final 2:30.