Tuesday night's Saugus-Hart High matchup was another example of a sequel not living up to the original.
Saugus beat Hart 11 days ago by one point in a down-to-the-wire thriller. But this time Hart took the lead early and never relinquished it, beating Saugus, 63-53, in the consolation semifinals of the Hart tournament.
Hart plays for the championship tonight at 7:30 against Beverly Hills, which defeated San Fernando in the other semifinal, 71-68.
"We were a little intense this time," Hart Coach Greg Herrick said. "I think we are a better club overall. We have more weapons than they do."
Hart's main weapon was a stifling man-to-man defense that forced Saugus (4-7) to work hard for its shots. Guard Rick Bilek, whose three-point shots were instrumental in the Centurions' earlier win, was 0 for 9 from the field.
Hart (7-4) led, 32-23, at halftime and, 39-32, after three periods but Vladimir Bilik, who scored 11 fourth-quarter points, led a charge that brought Saugus to within 50-47 with 3:16 to play.
But a basket by Brett Wilson, who finished with 12 points, and clutch free-throw shooting by Phil Briones, John Duncan and Darren Hinman down the stretch held off the Centurions.
Brian Allen led Hart with 15 points and eight rebounds. Steve Valenzuela added 14 points.
Gene Duggan had 15 points for Saugus. Bilik added 13 and Jason Harrison came off the bench to score 11 points and grab 11 rebounds.
Beverly Hills 71, San Fernando 68--San Fernando (4-4) made a furious fourth-quarter rally but Joe Mauldin's three-point shot at the buzzer came up short in the other consolation semifinal.
The Tigers trailed, 67-56, with three minutes to play but closed to within 69-68 behind the play of reserve guard Sean Williams. Williams made three three-point shots during the 12-2 run and also stole the ball and dished to Mauldin for a layup that brought the Tigers to within one point with 21 seconds to play.
Tory Stephens fouled Beverly Hills' Derek Patton with 11 seconds to go and the Norman guard sank both free throws to give his club a 71-68 lead.
Chris Plummer stole the inbounds pass and was fouled with eight seconds left. He missed the front end of the one-and-one, but the three-point attempt by Mauldin hit the front of the rim.
Mauldin led the Tigers with 21 points, Stephens added 18 and Williams finished with 13.