The Wolverines defeated the Palma Chieftains 66-49 in the CIF Division IV State Finals at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
This was Harvard-Westlake’s third state title overall with the previous two coming in 1996 and 1997 with both teams anchored by the Collins twins.
The Wolverines’ last appearance in a state final game was in 2003 when the squad was defeated by Foothill High School.
Before arriving at Sleep Train Arena, Harvard-Westlake made one final stop on their season of success. They had their final shoot around at Foothill High School, who has the year 2003 printed on their court to show the Wolverine players just how much importance the game they were about to play had.
The Wolverines were visibly nervous early in the game with the stakes so high and the first time all of the Wolverines had played at an NBA arena.
“Basketball is basketball,” Cassius Stanley ’19 said. “The hoops are still ten feet tall, the court is the same length, so although the stadium was a little bigger, it wasn’t a big deal.”
However Carter Begel ’17 and Wolfgang Novogratz ’16 came out early on fire and the Wolverines led from wire-to-wire.
After Begel started out the game with a two, Novogratz scored the next nine points for the Wolverines. Harvard-Westlake led the Chieftains 15-7 at the end of the first quarter, in which Novogratz scored 11 points.
In the first four minutes of the second quarter, the Wolverines extended their lead by going on a 10-2 run, which included a Begel three pointer from NBA range.
At the end of the first half, the Wolverines were up 35-18. In the first two quarters, Novogratz scored 18 points and Begel chipped in with 10.
Throughout the third quarter, the Wolverines kept up the intensity, were forcing turnovers, coming down with rebounds and getting easy layups at the basket. The quarter was highlighted by a Stanley alley oop, which was assisted by Novogratz who threw the ball from half court.
At the end of the third quarter, the Wolverines led 57-31, and at that point, the Wolverine faithful who made the 380-mile trip to Sleep Train Arena could feel what was coming next.
The Wolverines continued their success in the fourth quarter and cruised to an eventual 66-49 victory over Palma to claim the State Championship.
“I was anxious because it is freshman year and I wanted to win the championship so badly,” Stanley said. “At first I was trying to do everything, but then I let the game come to me and we won.”
Novogratz finished with 26 points, Stanley added 16 and Begel ended with 14.
“I was not going to let our team lose,” Novogratz said. “I was confident. I was ready for the championship and I knew what we had to do to win.”
First-year head coach David Rebibo guided this squad to their first state championship in 19 years, and his main goal is to get the team back to the same place next year.
Next season the squad will lose starter Novogratz and role player Henry Vogel ’16, but they will return a more mature Stanley and seniors Ali Iken ’17, Ray Mueller ’17, Begel and Aaron Glazer ’17.
Along with those returning players, the Wolverines will welcome Johnny Juzang ’20 who is the younger brother of Viewpoint star and Harvard signee Christian Juzang ’16.