The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

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

Boys’ basketball wins back-to-back Open Division State championships

Darlene Bible
The boys’ basketball team poses at center court with the Open Division state title after defeating Salesian College Preparatory 50-45 at the Golden1 Center in Sacramento on Mar. 9.

After winning back-to-back state titles, you would expect the boys’ basketball players to be ecstatic with joy. For the most part they were, storming the court and forming a mosh pit, but for senior guard Trent Perry ’24, who just played his final game of high school basketball, the moment was bittersweet.

The boys’ basketball team defeated Salesian College Preparatory 50-45 in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Open Division Championship game, winning consecutive state championships for the first time since 1996. Senior guard Robert Hinton ’24 led all scorers with 19 points on 89% shooting, followed by Perry with 17 points. The squad finishes their season with a total record of 33-3 and a perfect playoff record of 7-0.

The Wolverines looked much better than they did in their previous two games from the start. After giving up three three-pointers to the Pride, the team went on an 11-0 scoring run to end the quarter up 21-10, led by Hinton’s nine first-quarter points.

Salesian would survive the team’s early surge, quickly coming back within a five-point deficit. A major problem for the Wolverines was drive defense, as Salesian was easily able to find lanes for easy layups, but Hinton was able to score at his own will, with seven field goals on perfect shooting. Despite being outscored in the second quarter, the team entered the halftime break up 31-27 on the Pride.

To start the third quarter, Salesian’s strong defense became a huge problem for the Wolverines. The Pride held them scoreless for four straight minutes, going on a 5-0 run themselves to take the lead 32-31. But scores from Perry and junior forward Nik Khamenia ’25 allowed the team to retake a 38-36 lead heading into the final quarter of the championship game.

With eight minutes left to decide a state champion, the rest of the game was a dogfight between both teams. Each team traded back-and-forth blows on offense, and fouls from physical defense were called on almost every other possession. But Perry took control of the game in the fourth quarter, scoring the team’s last eight points and playing tough defense to seal the victory.

After Salesian had taken a 45-44 lead with an inside finish, the Wolverines looked frantic and anxious inbounding the ball and getting on offense. But Perry took matters into his own hands, immediately attacking and finishing through almost every Salesian defender to bring his team up 46-45 with a little over one minute remaining to play.

To no surprise, Perry would also make his presence known on defense for the Wolverines. On the subsequent possession, a Salesian player lost his dribble resulting in a loose ball, which Perry dove to the ground to fight for and secure possession of after Boys’ Basketball Program Head David Rebibo took an immediate timeout.

Winning by one with 56 seconds remaining, the Wolverines put the ball in Perry’s hands. Receiving the ball from Hinton at the right wing, Perry got to his spot at the left elbow, where he faded away for a contested jump shot and the dagger for the state championship. Up three points 48-45 with 26 seconds remaining, the Wolverines had the clear advantage over Salesian.

The game would officially be sealed by Perry after a Salesian turnover and a foul in the bonus gave the McDonald’s All-American two free throws with nine seconds left. Two free points made it a two-score deficit for Salesian, and the celebration would take place — but not yet for Perry.

After playing his final game of high school basketball, the senior guard was brought to tears on the floor while the rest of the team celebrated. In a postgame interview, Perry said his final heroics were motivated by wanting to end his high school career the right way.

“I didn’t want to lose my last game with this team,” Perry said. “I love this team so much. Being a part of this program really changed my life. I’m very grateful to be in this position and to be able to share this moment with our guys. I love them so much. I’m going to miss them.”

For Rebibo, this will be the second consecutive year he has led his team to multiple Open Division playoff appearances, as well as earning back-to-back regional and state titles in the Open Division. In a press conference interview, Rebibo said being able to win at the highest level by developing players over the course of several years rather than recruiting is a testament to his players and their commitment to the program.

The boys’ basketball team poses for a photo after their press conference.

“We won Mission League, CIF Southern Section and CIF State with no transfers,” Rebibo said. “If that’s not special and that doesn’t make a statement. I don’t know what does. This is a special group. Words cannot describe it. They made history, and they did it as seventh or ninth graders and never deviated. They showed character, they showed commitment and they showed a willingness to engage in the process, in earning their time and getting to their time, and it’s why they’re going to be successful, and I’m very, very proud.”

Taper Gym will not raise one, but two CIF State banners, after the girls’ basketball team defeated Colfax in the Division 2 state championship earlier that day. Rebibo said being able to bring home two state titles home reflects greatly on the culture and excellence of the school’s basketball teams.

“[The girls’ state title and our state title] is back to back,” Rebibo said. “Our regional games were a doubleheader at our place. And after the girls’ [regional] game, I got told 25 times not to screw it up, which was awesome. And then, after their game at two o’clock, all I could think in my head was ‘don’t screw it up, don’t screw it up.’ But it just means that these are two programs that work really hard, that are committed and show character when it mattered most at the end of the year.”

When asked if he had a message for the school community, Perry said to stay fighting through adversity and never give up.

“The road is not straight,” Perry said. “It’s a bumpy road. You’re going to go through a lot. You’ve just got to keep working. Keep your head down, stay in your own lane and just keep working.”

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