His performance at Class 1A, Area 10 rival Spring Garden proved just how focused he was.
Hardy torched the Panthers for 40 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead the Tigers (15-7, 5-3) to a convincing 83-57 victory that clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming area tournament.
The Tigers' opponent? You guessed it. It will be third-seeded Spring Garden (14-10, 5-3), and it will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season.
Third-ranked Collinsville is the tournament's top seed and will host the Area 10 tournament beginning Feb. 5.
Hardy made sure to firmly cement the Tigers' No. 2 seed on Friday.
"When I got hot, I started to feel it," Hardy said. "I got more confident in my shot, and it was falling."
When Hardy's shot began falling, the Tigers' confidence began rising.
"We just wanted to finish the game," Hardy said. "We haven't played a complete game this season. Coach (Joe Carpenter) told us in the locker room we needed to finish. We came out focused and we were just hitting on all cylinders. Coach just told us to come out with intensity, and the whole game we kept stepping on their throat."
Carpenter isn't one to dole out individual praise many times following Cedar Bluff's games, but even he commented on how in the zone Hardy was Friday night.
"He was pretty much unconscious shooting from anywhere," Carpenter said. "We fed off the fact that DeAngelo was hitting shots tonight. If he goes out and goes cold next time, I don't know what would happen. We've got to bring intensity the rest of the year."
The first half appeared as if the game would be as close as their last meeting in the Cherokee County Tournament final last weekend, won by Cedar Bluff 60-59.
Friday's game was tied at 16 at the end of the first quarter. Cedar Bluff managed to build a 35-28 halftime lead, but the Tigers blew the game open with a 27-17 run in the third to take a 62-45 advantage.
Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said things began to unravel for the Panthers late in the first quarter.
"We were up 16-9 and then come down and shot three 3-pointers that didn't have a shot to go in," Austin said. "They (Cedar Bluff) scored three straight buckets off our three missed 3-pointers, and that was it. We lost tempo of the game right there. We stayed 16 for a long time. We finally hit a bucket, but we just lost total control of the game.
"With a team like Cedar Bluff, you've got to control the tempo. We did a very good job of that at the county tournament and at their place in the first half. We weren't able to control the tempo tonight, and a lot of that was because of DeAngelo."
Four of Hardy's six 3-pointers came in the first half. He had 21 points at halftime.
Terrence Scales also had a solid night for the Tigers, scoring 15 points to go along with nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Levi Mintz added eight points and D'Shawn Fife finished with five points.
Jake Grogan led the Panthers with 19 points and six rebounds. Will Westbrook added 15 points and eight boards. Will Ivey contributed eight points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. Josh Hale finished with six points, four boards, two assists and a steal.
Spring Garden girls 55, Cedar Bluff girls 48
SPRING GARDEN - Spring Garden sophomore guard Emory Reedy connected on four of six free-throw attempts in the final 13 seconds to lift the Lady Panthers to a 55-48 victory over visiting Cedar Bluff on Friday.
Reedy led the Lady Panthers (12-10, 7-1 Class 1A Area 10) with 14 points. The win secured the Area 10 regular season title and the top seed in the area tournament for Spring Garden, which will host the area tournament beginning on Feb. 4. Spring Garden will face the winner between Gaylesville and Coosa Christian, while No. 3 Cedar Bluff (12-11, 5-3) will play No. 2 Collinsville.
"It's got to be an advantage," Austin said of hosting the area tournament. "You want to host, especially when there's three teams (Spring Garden, Collinsville and Cedar Bluff) where there's not much difference between them. This year, I think it's more important to host just to keep from being in that first tough battle right out of the gate. That could be a big deal. It could be a big difference with how tight everything is."
Friday's game was tight throughout. The Lady Tigers held a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 26-24 advantage at halftime. Spring Garden pulled out in front 35-32 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Tigers briefly took a 37-35 advantage on a bucket by Audrianna Hargitt at the 7:17 mark of the fourth quarter, but that would be the last lead Cedar Bluff would have. Hargitt did manage to bring the Lady Tigers within a point at 44-43 on a layup with 2:14 to go and within three at 51-48 on another bucket with 18.3 seconds left, but Reedy's free-throw shooting proved to be valuable down the stretch.
"Emory got to basket and made some plays getting to the basket," Austin said. "She got fouled a few times and made some plays at the free-throw line. Offensively, she was the difference in us being able to take the lead back."
Madison Sides added 11 points for the Lady Panthers. Tori Pierce contributed nine points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Haley Motes managed six points and seven boards. Darian Gaines finished with six points and four rebounds.
"I was pleased with how they stayed committed through the whole game," Austin said. "They were committed to finish it. We had a tight, tough ball game. It comes down to a lot of things with who wins and who loses that one, but fortunately, we come out on top tonight."
Hargitt scored a game-high 21 points for the Lady Tigers. She also had eight boards and eight steals. Hannah Leach added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Katie McGinnis contributed six points and three assists. Delilah Price also finished with six points.
"Spring Garden played tremendous," Carpenter said. "They had a lot on the line with hosting the area tournament if they beat us tonight, and it happened for them. I thought there were moments in the second half where we panicked. We didn't react well to certain situations. We still had a chance with 13 seconds to go, but we had some mental errors. We've got to see if we can learn from that. I thought the girls played well at times, but we didn't follow through, and Spring Garden did. They finished the deal, and we didn't finish the deal tonight."