Boys basketball win CIF championship


By Jack Davis


For the first time in four years, the varsity boys’ basketball team captured the glory of a CIF Championship, defeating Gahr High School 87-75 Saturday morning at the Honda Center in Anaheim.


Gahr gave the Wolverines its first real test of the playoffs, as for the first time during their playoff run the Wolverines trailed past the midpoint mark of the third quarter. However guard Nate Bulluck’s ‘10 nine third quarter points kept the Wolverines in the ball game, as they went into the fourth quarter trailing Gahr 55-53.


But the Wolverines were eventually able to wear Gahr out with their full court press and up tempo style of play, using a 31-17 fourth quarter run to put the Gladiators away.


Crucial threes by guards Nicky Firestone ’11 and Chris Barnum ’10 helped give the Wolverines and edge, and guard Austin Kelly ’10 and forward Erik Swoope ’10 sunk their free throws down the stretch to put the game away.


After the final buzzer sounded, the entire team stormed the court, mobbing each other at mid-court as Harvard-Westlake fans erupted in the stands. A brief championship ceremony followed, where Coach Greg Hilliard was awarded with a plaque commemorating the Wolverines as the CIF Southern Section Champions, and players wore awarded tee shirts and patches and took photos with school president Tom Hudnut.


it was Hilliard’s eighth sectional victory in 24 years of coaching.


Once the raucous celebration was over, the Wolverines headed to the locker room ecstatic about their enormous accomplishment, but refused to be satisfied with just a CIF Championship.


“This is the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life,”  said Bulluck, who suffered a dislocated jaw midway through the fourth, but couldn’t, “think about anything other than this championship.”


“All the work and energy we put in all year makes this so special,” Bulluck added.


“How can I possibly answer that question,” guard Chris Barnum said when asked what this accomplishment meant to him.


“I can’t even put this to words,”  Swoope said. Swoope was able to dominate the weaker Gahr inside on his way to 16 points, including five dunks.


“We never lost faith in each other when the game was close, and we just put it away when it mattered,” Swoope said. “This is a dream come true.”


With the win the Wolverines now advance to State playoffs, with the first round taking place Tuesday in Taper Gymnasium. If the Wolverines win that game, they will play again in Taper Thursday night, then at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion Saturday, then at the Sacramento King’s Arco Arena March 21st in what would be the State Championship.


“We just have to take what we learned in this game and apply it to Tuesday’s game,” Swoope said. “We got a lot more basketball to play.”



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