Daily News boys basketball: Preview of Harvard-Westlake’s matchup in CIF-SS Open Division final

Before the start of the season, the Harvard-Westlake boys basketball team identified three overarching objectives for the year.

Having already accomplished their first goal of a Mission League title, the Wolverines will have the opportunity to check off their second goal, a CIF Southern Section Open Division championship.

The third objective is to repeat as CIF State Open Division champions.

Standing in Harvard-Westlake’s way is Roosevelt, a team that lost just two games all season and is riding a 12-game winning streak.

Like the Wolverines, the Mustangs went 3-0 in the Open Division pool competition, setting up a battle of two of the state’s top programs in the Open Division final Friday at 8 p.m. at Cal Baptist University in Riverside.

“We know what’s ahead of us and we know they’re a really good team,” Harvard-Westlake head coach David Rebibo said about the matchup against Roosevelt. “We’re very excited for the opportunity.”

Led by McDonald’s All-American and USC signee Trent Perry, Harvard-Westlake runs an efficient and fluid offense that gets all five players on the court involved.

On any given night it could be Robert Hinton, Nikolas Khamenia, Christian Horry or Perry himself who leads the team in scoring. The Wolverines have been getting solid contributions off the bench from junior Isaiah Carroll and sophomore Amir Jones as well.

Harvard-Westlake’s Isaiah Carroll, #24, gets a loose ball from Sierra Canyon’s Jayden Alexander, #22, during second period action in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs at Havard-Westlake on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

But Harvard-Westlake prides itself on defense and effort. The Wolverines held Sierra Canyon and St. John Bosco to season lows in points in their last two games.

The Wolverines will face maybe their toughest challenge defensively yet, going up against a Roosevelt team led by the foursome of Brayden Burries, Darnez Slater, Issac Williamson and Myles Walker.

The Mustangs also have 6-foot-11 center Kevin “Tochi” Anigbogu clogging up the middle.

Burries, a junior and five-star prospect, averaged 20 points per game in Roosevelt’s three wins in pool play.

Slater, who will be playing at Colorado State in the fall, is a combo guard who can score and dish the ball.

“Our makeup is built on toughness, discipline and defense,” Rebibo said. “Our guys are believers, they’re bought in and they’re competitors. The work speaks for itself.”

Mission League’s Notre Dame, Alemany also in finals

Joining Harvard-Westlake in the boys basketball championship games are two of its Mission League rivals, Notre Dame and Alemany.

Notre Dame will face Gold Coast League champ Windward on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Toyota Arena in Ontario for the Division 1 crown.

Notre Dame and Windward faced seven common opponents this season, the only loss being a Crespi victory over Windward in the third game of the year.

Alemany won three of its last five games in the regular season to reach the .500 mark that was needed to qualify as an at-large team in the Division 3A playoffs.

The Warriors, the No. 11 seed, have rattled off four wins in a row in the postseason by an average margin of 13 points.

Alemany will take on Bosco Tech, which went undefeated (10-0) in the Santa Fe League, in the Division 3A championship game Saturday at Colony High School at 6 p.m.

Castaic playing for 5AA title

The Castaic boys basketball team will play top seed El Segundo in the Division 5AA championship game Friday at 4 p.m. at Azusa Pacific University.

The Coyotes are making their first playoff appearance in only their third year as a varsity program.

They defeated Dunn 76-68 in the semifinals. Senior Giovanni Valentin scored 15 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter for Castaic.

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