Four years ago, when the girls’ basketball team from San Diego Point Loma High was winning its second of four consecutive state championships, Hart won just three games.
Point Loma, under Coach Lee Trepanier, has been a basketball power for years, practically rewriting the San Diego Section record book.
Hart, under fourth-year Coach Pam Walker, has emerged as a power this season, having won 26 games, including its first Foothill League title in school history.
Thursday night at Point Loma, the schools played a dandy of a game in the Southern regional Division I semifinal.
After the first quarter, Hart held a one-point lead. At the half, Point Loma was in front by one. The Pointers increased the lead to three after three quarters before eventually prevailing, 54-47.
Point Loma, which has won 155 of 156 games at home, is 32-1 and advances to the regional final Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
“We’re where we’re supposed to be,” Trepanier said.
Hart, the Southern Section 5-A champion, had a 16-game winning streak snapped and finished 26-3.
“I feel fortunate to have finished with three losses,” Walker said.
Point Loma’s Monica Filer finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 assists. Tyeast Brown had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Erica Crittenden added eight points.
Junior forward Sara Wilson, who averaged 17.8 points and 14.1 rebounds this season, led Hart with 20 points--including 13 in the third quarter--and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Desa Pecel and freshman Anjanette Dionne each added eight points.
“I really think the difference was our man-to-man defense,” Trepanier said. “I think our press bothered them a little bit.”
Few could argue. Point Loma had 19 steals and held the Indians scoreless over the final two minutes, 42 seconds.
With just more than four minutes left, Filer made her second three-point basket to give Point Loma its biggest lead of the game, 51-44. At 2:42, Dionne, a freshman, hit a three-point shot from the top of the key to pull Hart to within, 51-47, but the Indians would score no more this season .
In fact, neither team would score again until Filer made two free throws with 21 seconds to play. Noelle Soares, who scored four points off the bench, made one of two free throws with a second left to account for the final margin.
“They were the team that executed down the stretch,” Walker said. “A lot of our turnovers (three) occurred in the last two minutes.”
Defense has been winning a lot of games for Point Loma lately. In four San Diego Section playoff games and one regional game, the Pointers allowed just 22, 12, 29, 25 and 29 points.
Hart had been dominating in the postseason as well, winning its last three postseason games by a total of 35 points. In its last three games, Hart defeated Buena (78-68 in overtime), Santa Barbara (63-49) and Fontana (68-57).
“This has been a real emotional month for us,” Walker said.
For four-year starters Pecel, Kim Posey, Nicole Anthony and Nikki Brodowy it has been an emotional four years.
“We remember what it was like when we were freshmen,” Pecel said. “As far as the season, we couldn’t be happier and more proud.”