Before his team's game with Simi Valley on Saturday night, Hart basketball Coach Doug Michelson said the key would be containing Don MacLean.
"We just can't let him dominate," Michelson said.
What Michelson feared would happen did happen, as MacLean, the Pioneers' 6-8 sophomore center, controlled the game with 27 points and seven rebounds in leading Simi Valley to a 68-51 win over the Indians in the semifinals of the Hart tournament.
Simi Valley (11-1) will play Marshall, a 64-44 winner over Beverly Hills, for the tournament title Monday at 7:30 p.m.
"Don MacLean might make me a good coach one of these days," Simi Coach Bob Hawking said.
But MacLean isn't the Pioneers' only super soph. Shawn DeLaittre, a 6-4 sophomore forward, added 20 points and eight rebounds for Simi Valley.
Hawking held a meeting before the game to discuss his team's play in a 54-44 win over San Fernando the night before, singling out the defense for his sharpest criticism. The Pioneers responded by "playing the best quarter, defensively, we've had all year" in the opening eight minutes, according to Hawking.
After Hart (7-6) scored the game's opening bucket, the Pioneers went on a 16-2 run, led by MacLean and DeLaittre.
Simi increased its lead to 25-10 with 7:41 left in the half, but Hart used a 16-2 spurt to close the deficit to 27-26 with 1:34 left.
But DeLaittre hit two quick field goals and MacLean added two free throws, giving the Pioneers a 33-28 lead at halftime.
Hart moved to within three points of Simi Valley early in the third quarter, but DeLaittre and MacLean spurred another Simi Valley run and the Pioneers pulled away to the easy victory.
The Pioneers, who led, 51-40, after three quarters, secured the game by making 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Todd Johnson made 7 of 9 attempts in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points for the Pioneers while MacLean was 9 of 12 from the field and 9 of 10 from the line.
Hart was led by Jim Baroni's 18 points.
The Indians played the game without starting forward Eric Arnold, a 6-2 junior who suffered a broken left ankle Friday night during the Indians' 47-45 win over Canyon.
Arnold was going for a layup when the Cowboys' Stuart Sayre shoved him into the wall behind the basket. Sayre was cited for a flagrant foul and ejected.
Arnold is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Marshall advanced to the title game on the strength of Jerry Simon's 30 points, 24 of them coming in the first half.
In other tournament action:
San Fernando defeated Canyon, 66-64, and will play Westlake for fifth place Monday at 3 p.m. San Fernando trailed by seven at halftime, but outscored the Cowboys, 21-8, in the third quarter to grab the lead.
Shelton Boykin led San Fernando with 21 points, including two free throws with 12 seconds left to put the Tigers ahead, 64-60.
Darrin Moloznik led Canyon with 28 points.
Every Westlake starter scored in double figures as the Warriors eliminated Crescenta Valley, 78-65. Rick Welch led the attack with 18, while the Falcons' Harvey Mason had 23.
The consolation championship will match Alemany against Notre Dame. Alemany defeated Antelope Valley, 48-43, while Notre Dame stopped St. Francis, 63-49.
SAN FERNANDO--Boikin 21; Prince 15; Lathan 11; Smith 9; Calloway 4; Hill 2; Sileo 2; Mathews 2.
CANYON--Moloznik 28; Mettinger 21; Sayre 6; Janes 5; G. Paskwietz 2; J. Paskwietz 2.
CRESCENTA VALLEY--Mason 23; Potter 21; Frost 10; Cammarata 8; Kauffman 2; Mullen 1.
WESTLAKE--Welch 18; Smith 14; Heckmann 14; Zeiss 14; Keenan 10; Forster 6; Robertson 2.
ALEMANY--Lucid 23; Bargeman 8; Rooney 6; Thomas 5; Swanson 4; Thompson 2.
ANTELOPE VALLEY--Wilson 17; Betton 10; Jones 7; Mahaffy 4; Whipple 3; Bronstein 2.