Wolverines take third place at tournament, defeat host University

Cole Jacobson

Alex Copeland ’15 entered Saturday’s third place game of the University High School Jim Nakabara Classic on a tear, having scored more than 20 points in each of the varsity boys’ basketball team’s previous six games.

He exited the University gym with one of the finest offensive performances in school history.

Copeland scored a career-high 37 points in the game, shooting 17-for-31 from the field while adding three steals, as the explosive Wolverine attack could not be stopped in a 90-71 victory over the host University Wildcats (8-4 overall, 0-0 in Western League) to take third place in University’s own tournament. The last Wolverine to score more than 37 in a game was Erik Swoope ’10, who scored 40 in a Feburary 2010 win over Notre Dame.

Similar to Friday’s loss against Dorsey, the game was high-scoring from start to finish. Led by strong shooting and passing from Copeland, who now is up to seven consecutive games with 20+ points — the most for any Harvard-Westlake player since stats were officially recorded by MaxPreps in 2004 — the Wolverines jumped out to a 26-18 lead after eight minutes.

In the second frame, University forced a few turnovers with some full-court press defense, but Copeland’s ability to get to the basket and forward Aaron Glazer’s ’17 jump shooting kept the points coming for the Wolverines, who took a 42-33 lead into the break. Glazer finished the game with 17 points on 4-for-8 three-point shooting, both varsity career-bests for him, and also added five rebounds.

University continued to press into the second half, and at one point cut the lead to 63-58, but elite offensive rebounding from Wolfgang Novogratz ’16 (19 points on 9-for-10 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two steals) and Noah Gains ’15 (7 points on 2-for-4 shooting, 17 rebounds, four assists, and three steals) kept giving the Wolverines more chances to score. Still, University was within reach at the end of the third frame, only down 68-62.

As the fourth quarter began, however, the Wolverines began to play some of their best basketball of the season, overwhelming University with superb ball movement and forcing several turnovers. Harvard-Westlake put the game out of reach by beginning the quarter on a 20-5 run, including two three-pointers from Ali Iken ’17 and three assists from Spencer Perryman ’15 (who led the team with seven in total), as the Wolverine lead was up to 21 in the quarter’s first five minutes. From there, subs came in for both teams, as the Wolverines held on to win by 19 points.

“We did a nice job pushing the ball, moving the ball, avoiding some of the isolation,” said Head Coach Greg Hilliard. “I’m proud of the way the guys bounced back after yesterday’s loss.”

Copeland and Novogratz were both named first-team all tournament for their efforts during the week.

With the win, Harvard-Westlake (6-2 overall, 0-0 in Mission League) took third in the Jim Nakabara Classic, mirroring its finish from last week’s tournament at Mira Costa. Conveniently, the Wolverines get the mid-year-assessment week off, as the team is next in action at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Palm Springs in late December, where their first pool play matchup will be on Dec. 26 against Galena High School (7-1 overall, from Reno, NV). Harvard-Westlake went 3-2 at the tournament last year, but played in the tournament’s elite “Invitational” division in 2013, while this year’s squad will play in the “Gatorade” division, the fourth toughest out of 11 varsity boys’ divisions offered.