Best in the West: Open Division Champs

Ella Yadegar and Averie Perrin

Basketball Program Head David Rebibo paced up and down the court as the Wolverines trailed St. John Bosco in the third quarter March 4 . Drawing up plays on his clipboard, Rebibo felt confident he could lead the team to come-from-behind success. After the team caught up in the fourth quarter and eventually overtook their opponents, he realized he had won his 300th game as a high-school basketball head coach.

Rebibo said he did not focus on getting his 300th win but rather on the fact that the team had made it to the Regional California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Finals.

“I was just excited that we won and were getting to the regional final,” Rebibo said. “I was proud of our guys and looking forward to getting 301. I remember a lot of very significant winning moments, but league, CIF and state championships never leave you.”

After coaching at El Camino Real and the University of San Francisco, Rebibo began working at the school in 2015. He has now been coaching at the high school level for 14 years. They went on to beat Centennial High School in the California Interscholastic Federation State SoCal Regional Open Division Finals and then won CIF Open Division State Championship against Santa Maria Joseph on March 11 for the first time in program history, making them the No. 1 team in California according to and giving Rebibo his 302nd win.

Rebibo said the team’s success is because of the good dynamic that players have developed .

“I’d say great chemistry, accountability and character have led to the team’s success this season,” Rebibo said. “I am proud, happy and excited for our guys. [It was] just an incredible accomplishment, and I am a very proud coach.”

Unlike a number of other high school teams, the school’s team has just one transfer student. Forward Brady Dunlap ’23 did not join the school as a freshman, but moved from Hart High School in Newhall, Calif. in 2020.

Dunlap said Rebibo’s coaching has made him a stronger player and person.

“He put a lot of difficult tasks ahead of me and the team,” Dunlap said. “He’s very demanding. He shoots straight, and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything, which really has helped me develop off the court as well, in terms of just being more mentally tough.”

Dunlap said Rebibo knows him well enough as a player to showcase his most developed skills when on the court.

“He’s improved my entire skill set, most importantly my defensive awareness and defensive schemes,” Dunlap said. “He also puts me in different good situations on the offensive side of the ball, [so I’m] just flourishing in the situations he puts me in.”

Because it is his last year on the team, Dunlap said he is going to miss practicing and playing with his friends.

“[I’ll miss] probably just the camaraderie in the family and the brotherhood that we have,” Dunlap said. “I’ve heard of a lot of teams that don’t really have that and they’re kind of split––like some people like each other and other people don’t like each other. This team wasn’t really like that at all. We all loved each other, and that’s probably what I’ll miss most.”

Boys basketball player Trent Perry ’24 said Rebibo is committed to the team and understands them well.

“Coach Rebibo is very passionate. He’s a hard worker, and he always gives his full trust to his guys,” Perry said.

Perry said Rebibo did not tell them about winning his 300th game, even though it is a big accomplishment in Rebibo’s career.

“It was kind of just like another win for him, honestly,” Perry said. “That’s what I like about him as well, because he just keeps everything the same, and he never really boasts about anything. He’s always very humble.”

Although he said Rebibo treated the game like any other in the season, Christian Horry ’24 said he and his teammates were motivated to achieve the accolade for Rebibo.

“There was a little bit of pressure that game because it was his 300th win,” Horry said. “It was also the playoffs, so we really couldn’t lose that game. It was the game we really didn’t see ourselves losing because we were the one seed, and they were like the seventh or something like that. We wanted to make it special for Rebibo, since this was a really big mark in his coaching career and he is such a great coach for Harvard-Westlake.”

Perry said he was ecstatic about winning CIF State because of all of the hard work he and his teammates put it during the season.

“I was actually so happy,” Perry said. “I thought I was gonna cry tears of joy, but I didn’t. It was a very special moment just because we went through a lot. I’m just glad I got to get my best friends, the seniors, a championship in the end.”

Head of Athletics Terry Barnum said Rebibo’s ability to connect to the players and school makes him an exceptional coach.

“Coach Rebibo is an amazing coach,” Barnum said. “What makes him so effective is that he understands and embraces the type of school that Harvard-Westlake is and connects really well with our students. He also cares about the school beyond his program. He is a great ambassador for the Athletic Department and the entire school. He cares deeply about every player in this program and does whatever he can to help them reach their full potential.”

Barnum said Rebibo’s methodical plan to win the State Championship made achieving that goal possible.

“At the end of last season, Coach Rebibo and I sat down and talked about what it would take for us to win an Open Division championship,” Barnum said. “He spent the entire offseason building a plan to put us in position to win at the highest level. Winning the Open Division State Championship was the goal from the beginning, and he gave his athletes the confidence to believe it was possible. That’s the mark of a great leader.”

Junior Fanatic Lily Stambouli ’24 said she has learned much about Rebibo’s character by attending many basketball games this season.

“You can tell he is really passionate about his job,” Stambouli said. “Not only because it is a Harvard-Westlake team but this specific group of kids. I just think it’s really amazing to have a coach that, very obviously, dedicates his whole life to the team and cares so much about it.”

Stambouli said the team has a strong bond that makes it unique.

“You can really tell that the boys on the basketball team see each other not only as a team, but as a family,” Stambouli said. “You can see that in the way that they play and the way that they interact with each other on and off the court.”

Horry said Rebibo has helped him through his injury recovery and recruiting.

“Last year, when I had hurt my ankle, I was really going through it, just because I was thinking ‘I’m really missing the playoffs,’” Horry said. “It was kind of the first time I saw him as not just my coach but someone I could reach out to if I needed help with anything. He was very supportive about it. With recruiting he’s always talking about how he can reach out to colleges for me and for clubs and just whatever I need from him. He’s just been a really supportive and helpful person.”