Boys basketball tops national and local high school rankings top 12 in national high school rankings

Trent+Perry+%E2%80%9924%2C+Brady+Dunlap+%E2%80%9923+and+Jacob+Huggins+%E2%80%9923+of+Harvard+Westlake+pose+alongside+Dusty+Stromer%2C+Mercy+Miller+and+Caleb+Foster+of+Notre+Dame+High+School+for+picture+day.%0A

Printed with permission of Darlene Bible

Trent Perry ’24, Brady Dunlap ’23 and Jacob Huggins ’23 of Harvard Westlake pose alongside Dusty Stromer, Mercy Miller and Caleb Foster of Notre Dame High School for picture day.

Eden Conner

It’s still dark outside when  small forward Nik Khamenia’s ’25 morning alarm goes off. He rolls over, groaning before grabbing his phone to turn off the alarm. The screen flashes, and he’s faced with the lock screen background he added the night of last year’s Open Division Championship loss to Corona Centennial: a silver medal engraved with the words “2022 Open Division Boys Basketball Runner-Up.” Khamenia stares at the virtual wallpaper for a second, then gets out of bed to get ready for morning training.

Boy’s Basketball had an overall league record of 25-3 and a 5-1 Mission League record last season. Khamenia said the team headed into the offseason after a 64-48 loss to Corona Centennial Feb. 25 who went on to win the CIF-SS championship.

“The loss was very tough,” Khamenia ’25 said. “I’ve watched the film so many times by now I can’t even count, but I’m taking it day by day. I think I definitely try not to look too far into the future. Everyone wants to think about January, February, March when things really get tough. Taking it a day at a time and getting better and improving this team is what I’m focused on.”

The team has ramped up training as they get closer to the winter season, moving from practice three to four days a week to a schedule of five to six days a week of practice. Coaches have focused recent practices on live drills, playing and trying to give the squad every look they might face during the season. Guard Christian Horry ’24 said as season approaches, the team is taking precautions to ensure a successful start to the season.

“Right now we’re focused on taking care of our bodies and avoiding any injury,”  Horry said. “There is also a shift in what’s going on outside of practice in terms of not going to parties and using our off days to rest.”

Transitioning from being the only freshman on varsity to sophomore year, Khamenia said he recognizes the importance of being a resource for the younger members of the team.

“Having younger guys on the team means they look up to me more,” Khamenia said. “I have to be a bigger role model and have confidence on the court because I’m not the new guy anymore.”

One adjustment the team is faced with is Sierra Canyon’s transfer from the Gold Coast League to the Mission League. Sierra Canyon was one basketball’s biggest opponents last year, so having them in the league will only add to the rivalry. Power Forward Jacob Huggins ’23 said he looks forward to their addition in the Mission League.

“I think it will add excitement for another game playing them at home,” Huggins said. “I know the students and Fanatics will be hyped for that game, but within the team I don’t think it adds anything special. We are going to play our brand of basketball whether it’s against them or not.”

Heading into the season, Boys Basketball has been ranked second in the city of Los Angeles, according to Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times. Horry says the expectations have fueled the team to reach goals that last year’s team couldn’t achieve.

“We feel tiny bits of pressure but it’s nothing that we can’t handle,” Horry said. “We’re still the same team and we push each other. I would say instead of more pressure we feel like it makes us work harder to live to those standards.”

The squad’s first game of the season is Nov. 14 against St. Monica Catholic High School.