Wolverines fight, come up short in league game against Alemany

With Parsa Shoa ’16 already out due to a back injury and Wolfgang Novogratz ’16 inactive after aggravating his foot injury on Wednesday against Notre Dame, the varsity boys’ basketball team needed a scoring boost to keep up with the high-powered offense of Alemany.

Alex Copeland ’15 took the message, putting the Wolverines on his back with 17 fourth-quarter points on his way to a career-high 40 points on 16-for-31 shooting. Copeland became the first Wolverine to hit 40 in a game since Erik Swoope ’10 in February of his senior season, and also added six assists, four rebounds, and two steals.

Still, Harvard-Westlake couldn’t close the gap in the second half on Alemany (9-7 overall, 1-1 in Mission League), as the team took its first league loss to the Warriors by a score of 86-75 on Friday.

In front of another big student crowd, the Wolverines got out to a hot start, as Ali Iken ’17 continued to dominate from three-point-range en route to 10 first quarter points. Aided by solid defensive work in the paint from Aaron Glazer ’17 (four blocks in the game) and Noah Gains ’15 (17 rebounds, six assists), the Wolverines led the favored Warriors 18-17 after one quarter of play, with Iken and Copeland combining for all of the team’s points in the period.

However, led by the jump shooting of second-year freshman DJ McDonald ’18, Alemany opened the second quarter on a 14-0 run, putting the Wolverines down by a double-digit deficit that they could never recover from. As McDonald and point guard Shacquille Dawkins ’16 — the 39th ranked player in the California Class of 2016 according to ESPN — began to dominate, the lead got as big as 17 points, although the Wolverines were able to cut it to 43-32 at the half on a last-second floater from Copeland.

Slashing from Copeland and shooting from Iken, who finished the night with 21 points on 5-for-12 from three-point-range, helped the Wolverines cut the lead to as thin as six in the third frame, but Alemany’s ability to get to the line — they finished 28 for 37 from the free throw line as a team, including some foul calls that angered the passionate Wolverine crowd — kept them in control. Especially consistent from the stripe for Alemany was Daron Henson ’16, ranked 26th in the same ESPN California Class of 2016 List, who also added a monstrous slam dunk in the third frame.

As Alemany took a 66-50 lead into the fourth quarter, Copeland began his heroics, seemingly scoring on nearly every possession as he tried to will his depleted team back into the game. In fact, Copeland received praise from the LA Daily News’ Jack Pollon during the quarter, as Pollon considered Copeland to be on the same level as Campbell Hall’s Aaron Holiday ’15 and Maranatha’s Tyler Dorsey ’15 as “three guys that can really score the ball.” Unfortunately, as Henson and Dawkins, who each finished with 21 points, continued to score, the Wolverines couldn’t ever cut the lead to less than eight, as Alemany padded its lead on intentional fouls from the Wolverines to the eventual 11-point final margin.

Harvard-Westlake (9-5 overall, 1-1 in league) will hit the road in the coming week, with three league games all coming away from the Taper Gymnasium. The first one will be on Monday at 7 P.M., when the Wolverines take on Crespi (12-4 overall, 1-0 in league), who defeated Alemany 56-51 on Wednesday. Crespi swept the Wolverines last season, and is ranked 70th in California by MaxPreps, compared to 105th for Harvard-Westlake.

The Daily News’ recap of Friday’s game can be seen here: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20150109/alemany-handles-harvard-westlake-in-boys-basketball-win

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