Wolverines open University tournament with blowout win

Cole Jacobson

In the varsity basketball team’s first four games, elite defense was the story for the Wolverines, as the team held its opponents under 45 points in three games on its way to a third place finish.

On Wednesday, the offense took the glory.

Behind a dominant performance from Alex Copeland ’15 and a boost from the Wolverine debut of transfer Wolfgang Novogratz ’16, Harvard-Westlake dominated its local foe North Hollywood (2-2 overall, 0-0 in East Valley League) from start to finish in an easy 91-57 victory in the Wolverines’ first game of the University High School Jim Nakabara Classic tonight. The team’s total of 91 points was its most in a regulation game since, coincidentally, its opening game of last season’s University tournament, a 94-64 win over Dorsey.

North Hollywood was in the game early on, down 15-9 late in the first, but Copeland took over soon after; he had six points in a 10-2 run at the end of the quarter, which made the score 25-11, and continued to score at will in the second frame. Copeland scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half, as the Huskies struggled to keep up with the Wolverines’ speed in transition. Also aided by three three-pointers in the half by Spencer Perryman ’15, who finished the game with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting and a team-leading six assists, the Wolverines took a 42-24 lead into the break.

Harvard-Westlake took care of business in the second half; center Noah Gains ’15 began to take over, scoring all 13 of his points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting in the half to go with 12 rebounds, doing work both from the three-point-line and inside the paint. The Huskies featured no players listed as more than 6’3”, and Gains made the most of this rare advantage. When the Wolverines stretched their lead to 72-40 with around six minutes remaining, the bench was cleared, as Head Coach Greg Hilliard wanted to see what some of the reserves could do.

The new group didn’t disappoint — Henry Vogel ’16 finished with six points on 2-for-3 three-point shooting, four assists and three rebounds, Ray Mueller ’17 had four points on 2-for-3 shooting and 10 rebounds, and Raymond Chung ’15 got the Wolverine bench excited by scoring six fourth quarter points on 2-for-3 shooting from deep. Novogratz, who also finished out the game as he gets acclimated to playing in real-game situations, had 13 points (on 3-for-5 shooting and 7-for-7 from the line), also contributing with four rebounds, three assists, and four steals in only 16 minutes of playing time.

It wasn’t all good news for the squad today, unfortunately — the team received word that forward Parsa Shoa ’16, who averaged 3.7 PPG on 12 MPG as a sophomore, is out for the season due to a herniated back disc. Carter Begel ’17 also missed the game due to sickness, but said that he expected to be cleared to make his seasonal debut during the school’s winter break in late December.

With the win, Harvard-Westlake (4-1 overall, 0-0 in Mission League) moved to 1-0 in tournament pool play, while eliminating the Huskies (0-2 in the tournament) from title contention. The Wolverines next face St. Monica (3-3 overall, 0-0 in Camino Real League), who defeated North Hollywood by 11 on Monday, on Thursday at 5:30 P.M., in the same University gym.