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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK : Hart’s Wilson Does Brother One Better

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The Sunday morning sports pages bore a headline along the lines of “Wilson Leads Hart to Victory.”

Wilson, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, scored 13 points Saturday night as Hart High defeated Buena, 78-68, in overtime in a Southern Section 5-A Division basketball playoff semifinal.

Wilson made a clutch basket to tie the score with 25 seconds remaining, then made another to give the Indians an early lead in overtime.

Wilson also was on the bench before the game was over, having fouled out.

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And Wilson, reduced to no more than a cheerleader, was not pleased with the call.

“I thought the first four fouls were legitimate,” Wilson said. “But the last one was kind of iffy.”

And also kind of surprising is that it was Sara Wilson, not her brother Brett, hitting the clutch shot, fouling out in protest and generally taking charge of the game.

Brett Wilson averaged 23.4 points a game this season to lead the Hart boys’ team. But sister Sara is the only member of the family still playing basketball these days, excluding Shirts vs. Skins, halfcourt and only when the gym is unoccupied.

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While Hart’s boys were eliminated by Pasadena in the first round of the playoffs, the girls are still alive. The Indians (24-2), winners of 14 in a row, will play Santa Barbara on Friday at Cal Poly Pomona in their first championship-game appearance.

“I guess,” Wilson cheerfully said of her brother, “that probably somewhere in the back of his mind he’s jealous. He wishes his team was in the finals.”

But Sara Wilson has earned it. She averages 17.3 points and 11.8 rebounds a game--team-highs--and has been an offensive catalyst this season.

“Sometimes, size is a disadvantage for a player her age,” Hart Coach Pam Walker said. “But she’s very agile for a 6-3 player. She can dribble the ball the length of the court without looking like Kareem. And she’s truly a team player. There’s not a lick of selfishness about her.

“But down the stretch, especially in close games, she has an attitude of ‘Gimme the ball.’ When the game is on the line, she’s a money player.”

Wilson, however, was on the verge of cashing in her chips against Buena long before overtime became a possibility. She collected four fouls before halftime and spent the entire third quarter on the bench.

“I was out of control” Wilson said. “I was making some dumb fouls I shouldn’t have been making. I felt I was being pretty irresponsible to the team. On the bench, my stomach and heart were going.”

Hart, which led, 34-29, at halftime, maintained a 54-49 lead as the fourth quarter began. But Buena rallied to tie, then assumed a 64-60 lead with two minutes to play. Wilson and her four fouls were reinserted into the lineup midway through the fourth quarter.

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“Sometimes you have to roll the dice a little,” Walker said. “I told her, ‘Play like you have only one foul, not like you have four.’ ”

Wilson muscled inside for a basket to tie the score, 66-66, in the final minute. In overtime, Wilson’s eyes held dollar signs. She converted to give Hart a permanent lead before being whistled for a blocking foul.

“The way the game was flowing,” she said, “I didn’t feel worried that we wouldn’t win. We have this goal and we’re pretty determined. We don’t want anything to stop us.”


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