The Notre Dame Knights defeated the Wovlerines 56-54 in the CIF-SS Division 4AA semifinals on a Chibueze Jacobs ’16 13-foot jump shot with 3.8 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for the Knights.
In the Mission League foes’ previous two matchups, the Wolverines fell both times to the Knights. Notre Dame won the first matchup at home 65-63 on Jan. 8 on a Jacobs tip-in at the buzzer. The Wolverines lost again on Jan. 29 75-70 at Taper Gymnasium.
Coming into the game, the Wolverines had won five of their last six outings, including three straight playoff wins. Similarly, the Knights had won seven of their previous eight games.
The Wolverines were without starting shooting guard Ali Iken ’17 who suffered a right ankle injury in the squad’s quarterfinal matchup against Laguna Beach.
Playing in front of a sold out arena, Harvard-Westlake was led by captain Wolfgang Novogratz ’16 who had the Wolverines’ first six points. At the end of the first quarter, the Wolverines led the Knights 14-9.
To begin the second quarter, Cassius Stanley ’19 scored Harvard-Westlake’s first five points, including a deep three pointer. Stanley helped spearhead a 7-3 run to start the quarter for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines led for nearly the entire first half, and took a 27-20 lead into the locker room. Novogratz and Stanley were the only two Harvard-Westlake players in double digits with 12 and 11 points respectively. Jacobs had 11 first half points for the Knights.
Notre Dame came out of the break on a 9-4 run during the first four minutes of the second half. They were again guided by Jacobs who had 12 points in the quarter. The Wolverines only scored 11 third quarter points. Heading into the final period, Harvard-Westlake led the Knights 38-37.
Throughout the fourth quarter, the two sides traded baskets, doing anything in their power to not relinquish the lead.
With approximately four minutes remaining in the game, Stanley hit two deep threes to answer three pointers by Notre Dame and tie the score at 50. As each side buried contested shots, the intensity and noise levels continued to rise inside of the packed Taper Gymnasium.
With just over a minute left in the game, Ray Mueller ’17 hit a layup to give the Wolverines a 52-50 lead.
But, Notre Dame responded with four straight points to give the Knights a 54-52 advantage.
Novogratz was fouled with 19.2 seconds remaining, and made a pair of free throws to again even up the score at 54.
Then, Jacobs answered for the final time, hitting the jumper in the lane to give the Knights the lead for good.
Novogratz ended with 15 points and teammate Stanley finished with 19. Jacobs scored 30 points, including 19 in the second half.
Notre Dame will advance to the CIF-SS finals next weekend against the winner of San Gabriel Academy and Gardena Serra.