By Mark Seraydarian
In winning the Palm Springs tournament and consolation bracket of the Fairfax tournament this summer, the Wolverine basketball team displayed its blend of veteran talent and up-and-coming youth.
Austin Kelly â10 was named most valuable player of the Palm Springs tournament, to which Harvard-Westlake entered two teams, since another team pulled out unexpectedly.Â
Â The âAâ team won the tournament while the âBâ team was a semi-finalist and four points away from making it to the final.
Young big man Damiene Cain â11 gained some attention when he recorded a triple double in Palm Springs with 27 points, 20 rebounds and 12 blocks.Â
âHe ended up being our second leading scorer and second leading rebounder for the tournament and for a ninth grader thatâs pretty solid,â head coach Greg Hilliard said.Â âHeâs big and able to compete.Â Heâs not giving away anything other than his age.â
After losing in the first round to Long Beach Poly in the Fairfax tournament, the Wolverines won the consolation bracket, including a big 15 point win over powerhouse Campbell Hall, UCLA commit Drew Hollidayâs team.
âDrew flew in from back east to beat us and scored 33, but Renaldo [Woolridge â08] scored 30.Â It was quite a battle,â Hilliard said.Â The Wolverines would not lose again for the rest of the tournament.
Woolridge was only able to join the team for 14 of the 30 games the Wolverines played this summer.
He was busy with national invitational tournaments including the Reebok tournament, but he believes that his lack of playing with the team will not translate into any problems.
âEven though I didnât play much with the team this summer, weâll have good chemistry because weâve all been playing for so long,â Woolridge said.Â âWeâll definitely be a physical team that grabs a lot of rebounds because we have a big strong team.â
Woolridge and Princeton commit Zane Ma are both 6â8â while Cain is another able-bodied big man.
âWe only lose one starter and weâre really deep off the bench, but weâre a senior heavy team,â Ma said.
Hilliard is also excited for the upcoming season. Ideally for Hilliard, the many seniors on the team will set a good example for the younger budding stars.
âWhat I liked this summer is that along with the obvious talent like Renaldo whoâs turned into a nationally recognized player, the young kids are going to be ready to take the hand off of the baton,â he said.Â âThatâs whatâs exciting is that the talent is spread throughout the class.â
The season starts Nov. 19 with a scrimmage against Valencia.Â