Harvard-Westlake basketball leans on defense to win first CIF-SS Open Division title

Harvard-Westlake team pose for aphoto after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game against Roosevelt 54-47 at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

RIVERSIDE — Even when the shots weren’t falling for the Harvard-Westlake boys basketball team, or its free throws down the stretch, the defensive effort was never in question.

It hasn’t been in question all season.

For the third game in a row in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs, the Wolverines held their opponent to a season low in points.

With the defense holding down the fort, Harvard-Westlake defeated Roosevelt 54-47 Friday night at Cal Baptist University to claim its first CIF-SS Open Division title in program history.

Harvard-Westlake’s Trent Perry and Roosevelt’s Darner Slater battle for the ball during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake’s Amir Jones and Roosevelt’s Darner Slater battle for a rebound during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Brayden Burries blocks Harvard-Westlake’s Trent Perry as Kevin “Touch” Anigbogu also helps during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Brayden Burries attacks the basket between Harvard-Westlake’s Isaiah Carroll and Nikolas Khamenia during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship gameon Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake’s Robert Hinton goes for a layup during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game against Roosevelt at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake’s Darnez Slater attacks the hoop against Roosevelt’s Kevin “Touch” Anigbogu during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Myles Walker attacks the basket against Harvard-Westlake’s Trent Perry during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake’s Amir Jones and Roosevelt’s Darnez Slater battle for a rebound during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Myles Walker attacks the basket guarded by Harvard-Westlake’s Isaiah Carroll during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Darnez Slater attacks the basket past Harvard-Westlake’s Amir Jones and Nikolas Khamenia during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Brayden Burries takes a shot against Harvard-Westlake’s Nikolas Khamenia during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Robert Horry yells as his son plays for Harvard-Westlake against Roosevelt during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Roosevelt’s Darner Slater goes for a layup against Harvard-Westlake’s Christian Horry during the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake team celebrates after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game against Roosevelt 54-47 at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlake team pose for aphoto after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship game against Roosevelt 54-47 at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center on Friday Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

of

Expand

“Toughness, character, they know what our backbone is and our backbone as a program is the defensive end and defensive discipline and just overall discipline,” Harvard-Westlake head coach David Rebibo said. “They believe, they buy into it and the proof is in the pudding.”

The Wolverines uncharacteristically struggled with their shooting in all areas — from the field, 3-point line and free-throw line. They made 36 percent, 23 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

But led by Nikolas Khamenia’s 15 points and Robert Hinton’s 15 points, Harvard-Westlake scored just enough while holding the Mustangs to 30 percent shooting from the field to pull out the victory.

Nikolas Khamenia showcasing his moves in the post pic.twitter.com/9hSIvcivdm

— Dan Lovi (@LoviSports) February 24, 2024

“Today was not one of our best shooting nights, just not one of our nights,” Khamenia said. “But the defensive end took care of it. We rebounded well, we took care of the ball well enough. They only scored 47.”

The Wolverines maintained the lead for the entirety of the game, but the Mustangs made a comeback late in the fourth quarter after Darnez Slater hit a couple of corner 3-pointers.

Roosevelt brought it to within three points, but after Trent Perry missed a pair of free throws, Hinton was fouled on a rebound attempt and he made both free throws to help Harvard-Westlake pull away.

Slater led Roosevelt with 18 points. Brayden Burries scored 14 points.

“I’m feeling so many emotions right now,” Hinton said. “There’s nothing like this. I’m so proud of our team, our coaches and I’m so happy we pulled through.”

Harvard-Westlake has a hefty collection of trophies in its case, including six straight Mission League titles and a CIF State Open title, but this is the first CIF-SS Open Division championship for the Wolverines.

It was a goal from the start of the season to capture the CIF-SS crown, and now there is one objective left on this season’s list – the state title.

“This has been something we’ve been chasing for a long time,” Khamenia said. “My freshman year we lost this game at Centennial. Last year we didn’t make it to this game. So this year it was an emphasis. We had some unfinished business. We got this one but we still got one more to go.”

“That’s two down. Last one,” Hinton said with a beaming smile.

Related Articles

High School Sports |


Sierra Canyon girls basketball falls to Etiwanda in CIF-SS Open Division final

High School Sports |


Castaic boys basketball wins CIF-SS 5AA title after seizing second chances on and off the court

High School Sports |


Antelope Valley girls basketball runs past St. Pius X-St. Matthias in Division 5A championship game

High School Sports |


Birmingham girls basketball used depth, championship pedigree to reach City Open Division final

High School Sports |


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *