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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Khamenia, Hinton and Perry combine for 57 of team’s 63 points to lead team back to State Championship

Connor Tang
Members of the boys’ basketball team pose with the trophy after defeating Roosevelt 63-59 in the CIF Regional Open Division championship March 5.

After a thrilling doubleheader in Taper Gym, both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will be taking a road trip to Sacramento to compete for their respective state championships March 9.

In a rematch of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) championship game, the Wolverines defeated Roosevelt High School 63-59 in the CIF Regional Open Division championship game March 5. Senior guard Trent Perry ’24 led all scorers with 28 points, followed by senior guard Robert Hinton ’24 with 16 points and junior forward Nik Khamenia ’25 with 13 points. The squad improves to an overall record of 32-3 on the season with a playoff record of 6-0.

To start the game, both teams were sloppy, trading turnovers and fouls each way. But with the score tied 10-10 in the first quarter, Roosevelt took command of the game, going on an 11-0 run into the second quarter to make the score 21-10, capitalized on a three by standout guard Brayden Burries.

For the majority of the first half, the Roosevelt defense made it difficult for the Wolverines to run their offensive schemes, causing them to settle for low-percentage shots and isolation plays. A few needed scores from Hinton including a fast-break dunk would bring the deficit within double digits, but the Mustangs responded instantly with scores of their own to re-establish a ten-point lead going into halftime, the score 35-25.

To start the third quarter, an 8-2 scoring run brought the team within three to 39-36, their closest deficit of the game, but Roosevelt would respond once more with five unanswered to extend their lead back to eight points. Although still trailing, the Wolverines looked much more comfortable on offense, getting high-percentage scoring opportunities. But it was a three from Perry with 30 seconds left in the third that brought the score to 46-41 and started the comeback.

This time the Wolverines’ surge would not be stopped, as an 11-3 run to start the final quarter finished by Perry gave the team their first lead of the game since they took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. The Mustangs seemed unable to finish at the rim, which only fed into fast-break opportunities the other way. With a little under four minutes remaining, the score was 52-49 favoring the Wolverines.

But the dagger for Roosevelt would be with about one minute remaining, when a pass intended for Burries posting up was intercepted by Hinton, giving the Wolverines the ball with one minute remaining, up 56-55 over the Mustangs. Perry would slow down the offense, then coming off a screen accelerated around the right elbow to finish through contact for a chance at a three-point play, which he converted to bring the team up four points with thirty seconds remaining.

Perry would sink all four of his free throws to complete the comeback win, finishing with 28 points following a 40-point performance on Saturday. The CIF Regional Open Division title is the second for the team in consecutive years, who beat Corona Centennial in the regional final and went on to defeat St. Joseph to win the state title the previous year. Boys’ basketball Program Head David Rebibo said being able to compete in the Open Division for multiple years is a testament to the abilities of his players.

“It means everything for our seniors,” Rebibo said. “For them to win their last home game is incredible. But also to go to to state back-to-back years is incredible, in the open division. It is not easy to compete for championships, let alone win a championship and fight for another championship. The kind of character and resolve that they continue to show amazes me night in and night out.”

The comeback victory is the second for the team in back-to-back games, previously defeating Carlsbad in the regional semifinal at home March 2. Rebibo said the team adopted a new mindset when playing from behind.

“The bottom line is we were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win,” Rebibo said. “When we flipped the switch and we came out in the second half, I knew we got a chance.

The team will face Salesian College Preparatory from the Northern California bracket for the state championship at the Golden1 Center on March 9, with the opportunity to win back-to-back state championships in the Open Division. Hinton said winning the state championship is the final goal the team has for this season.

“We need it,” Hinton said. “We need it so bad, we need it so bad. It’s always been about our three goals, [Mission League, Southern Section and State], and we’re finally about to get to our third goal.”

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Justin Tang, Assistant Sports Editor
Connor Tang, Assistant News Editor

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