In Wednesday’s loss to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, the varsity boys’ basketball team was marred by poor free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, going under 40 percent as a team in the final eight minutes in the upset loss on the road.
Unfortunately for the squad, they picked up where they left off on Friday night.
A 12.5 percent team free throw effort in the first half put the Wolverines down early, and Alemany junior stars Daron Henson ’16 and Shacquille Dawkins ’16 took full advantage, combining for 47 points in the Warriors’ (17-6 overall, 7-1 in Mission League) 89-58 home win over Harvard-Westlake.
The game was tabbed by the Los Angeles Daily News as a “hot ticket” for the weekend, and it looked like it would live up to that billing early on. Although the Warriors jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead in the first quarter behind seven points from Dawkins, the Wolverines didn’t lay down, as shooting from guards Spencer Perryman ’15 (eight first-half points) and Ali Iken ’17 combined with consistent penetration from Alex Copeland ’15 kept Harvard-Westlake in contention — the score was only 21-15 after one quarter, and was as close as 23-19 early in the second period.
However, Alemany’s athleticism advantage began to become apparent soon after, as big men Henson and Kevin Summers ’15 began to dominate inside. Carter Begel ’17 helped keep the Wolverines alive as a defensive spark, finishing with five rebounds and four steals, and Copeland, hampered by the flu, had 12 of his team-leading 17 points in the first two periods. Still, as the Wolverines struggled from the line, finishing the first half 1-for-8 and the game 11-for-28, Alemany built its lead behind Dawkins and Henson, finishing the quarter on a 23-11 run to head into the half with a 46-30 lead — passing Notre Dame’s Wednesday performance as the most first-half points scored against the Wolverines all year.
Early in the second half, the Wolverines struggled with turnovers, and Alemany shooting from long-range made them pay. Behind Dawkins and Henson, Alemany built on its late first half dominance, starting the quarter on a 19-8 run to get the margin to as large as 29 points in the third quarter. As the Wolverines trailed 67-41 with roughly 1:30 left go to in the third, Copeland, Noah Gains ’15 (eight points on 3-for-6 shooting and five rebounds), Iken, and Perryman were all taken out for good, as Head Coach Greg Hilliard allowed some reserves to get some run late in the game.
Suspiciously, Alemany kept its starters in for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, as the lead got as large as 33 points before Dawkins, Henson, and Ernie Sears ’17 were removed with around five minutes to go. From there, primarily subs played out the string for both teams — Henry Vogel ’16, David Seo ’16 and Raymond Chung ’15 all hit three-pointers, but their efforts were in vain by that point, as Alemany took home the win with the 31-point margin of victory to maintain its first-place status in the league.
Before the matchup began, Alemany honored Hilliard in a touching ceremony, recognizing his efforts in his 30 years running the Wolverine program. Alemany Head Coach Tray Meeks called him “the classiest man I know,” and said that while they were enemies during the game, “we’ll be best friends after the final whistle.”
Harvard-Westlake (11-9 overall, 3-5 in Mission League) falls to 5th place in the league, but still in safe position to make the 32-team CIF-SS Division 4AA playoff bracket with an at-large bid if necessary. The team only gets roughly 14 hours off after Friday’s tough loss, as they are next in action against CIF-SS Division 1AA’s Calabasas (13-10 overall, 2-4 in Marmonte League) in part of Fairfax’s “State Preview Classic,” which consists of 17 top teams in Southern California and one team from Nevada showcasing their talents in the one-day event. The game, which features the 66th (Calabasas) and 103rd (Harvard-Westlake) ranked teams in California by MaxPreps, will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning at Fairfax High School.