Had there been a fat lady at Cal Poly Pomona on Friday night the singing would have commenced early and lasted throughout the evening.
The singing--and quite likely the subsequent celebrating--in fact, did.
The crescendo was Hart High’s 63-49 rout of Santa Barbara in the Southern Section 5-A Division championship game.
Hart’s fans, who packed one-quarter of the spacious gym, began chanting early and were singing, “Hey, hey, goodby” in the fourth quarter although several minutes remained.
Their mirth was warranted. The title is Hart’s first since the program’s inception in 1972.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Coach Pam Walker, who guided the Indians (25-2) to their first Foothill League championship and 15 consecutive wins to finish the season. “I don’t think it’s hit any of us. When we wake up tomorrow, everyone will have a smile on their face . . . if we ever go to bed tonight.”
The Indians, seeded No. 2, put Santa Barbara to bed early, leaping to a 7-1 lead and steadily increasing it.
Hart led, 22-11, after one quarter and, 38-22, at halftime.
A balanced attack, Hart’s hallmark this season, checked a 25-point effort by Santa Barbara guard Faha Banks, a former summer player for Walker.
Junior forward Sara Wilson, Hart’s leading scorer, had 18 points to lead the Indians. Guards Desa Pecel added 15 points--nine in the fourth quarter--and Kim Posey had 12.
“Play like a team, win like a team,” Walker said. “Everybody shined. It’s the best way to win a title.”
Only four players scored for Santa Barbara (21-8). In the fourth quarter, which began and ended with Hart ahead by 14, Banks (eight points) and fellow guard Nicole Barr (six) accounted for all of the Dons’ points.
“Coach told us before the game that Faha was the key factor,” said Pecel, who drilled four long-distance jump shots. “We held her.”
Santa Barbara launched only two minor threats, the first in the third quarter when Kristin Knapp, a 6-foot-3 junior center who finished with 15 points, made a jump shot and Banks made a layup and a jump shot to cut Hart’s lead to 44-33. Hart closed the period with a 5-2 run, however.
In the fourth quarter, Banks made a steal and a layup with 2:48 to play to cut the Indians’ lead to 57-47--their smallest since 19-11.
Hart, however, then took the only timeout it required in the game.
“We try to play like we’re 10 points down all the time,” Walker said. “It didn’t seem like it came easily. I don’t think anyone was looking at the scoreboard. I know I wasn’t.”
Hart emerged from the timeout and Pecel made a baseline jump shot. Wilson followed with two free throws to give the Indians a 61-47 advantage.
With 12 seconds to play, Hart’s entire grandstand entourage was delivering a standing ovation.
Roses from well-wishers seasoned the postgame celebration.
“It seems like I say the same thing after every game,” Wilson said. “But I just can’t explain this feeling. I can’t put it into words.”
Walker, who is in her fourth season at Hart, had an easier time.
“That you can set a goal and get beyond the obstacles to achieve it is a great feeling,” she said. “It kind of makes you believe in the American Dream.”