Basketball defeats Notre Dame in Mission League opener

Cole Jacobson

Behind a hot start and a dominating fourth quarter performance, the varsity boys’ basketball team was able to soundly defeat Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (8-6 overall, 0-1 in Mission League) on Wednesday night, finishing with a 84-64 victory in its home opener in front of a large crowd on Harvard-Westlake’s “Alumni Night.”

Led by strong shooting from point guard Ali Iken ’17, who finished the game with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting, the Wolverines dominated the game early on, jumping out to a 14-2 lead in the game’s first five minutes. When Alex Copeland ’15 hit a three pointer just before the quarter’s buzzer sounded, the Wolverines had a 21-11 lead, and seemed to be on their way to a blowout victory.

However, Notre Dame’s CJ Jacobs ’16, who led the Knights with 17 points, began to dominate the game soon after, willing his team back into the game as Notre Dame finished the first half on a 24-9 run to take a 35-30 lead into the break.

Fortunately, Harvard-Westlake — well-rested after having eight days off since its painful championship loss at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic — took control of the game from there. Spencer Perryman ’15 (12 points on 4-for-7 from three-point-range) hit two three-pointers in the third quarter, and Copeland heated up in the second half, including another near-buzzer-beater jump shot at the end of the third quarter over former Harvard-Westlake student Chance Goring ’17, who made his Notre Dame debut after sitting out the season’s first month due to CIF-SS transfer rules. Copeland had a superb game overall with 27 points in all on 9-for-18 shooting, six steals, and four assists, and is still the Mission League’s leading scorer.

Entering the fourth quarter, Notre Dame was within only six points, but Harvard-Westlake’s quickness and ability to force turnovers led to a scoring burst, as their lead gradually grew the rest of the way. Wolfgang Novogratz ’16 (18 points) sealed the win with clutch late free throws, finishing 12-for-14 from the line in the game, as the team’s 28-point quarter led to the final 84-64 margin. Novogratz also added eight rebounds, five assists, and five steals in another solid outing for the Wolverines’ own transfer arrival.

Harvard-Westlake is now 9-4 overall and 1-0 in Mission League play, and will have one more home league game this week when the team takes on Alemany (8-7 overall, 0-1 in league) on Friday at 7 P.M. Alemany swept the Wolverines last season, and is ranked 53rd in California on MaxPreps’ most recent rankings, compared to 92nd for Harvard-Westlake.