Harvard-Westlake boys basketball fights off Salesian to capture second straight Open Division state title

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake hugs a coach after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

SACRAMENTO — Harvard-Westlake’s chances of becoming back-to-back CIF State Open Division boys basketball champions were in jeopardy late in the fourth quarter in a Golden 1 Center filled mostly with Salesian College Prep fans.

The Wolverines had sacrificed a 10-point lead and were forced to fend off a gritty Salesian team in the final quarter en route to a 50-45 win Saturday night.

“It’s the best thing ever just to play in front of a huge crowd,” Wolverines senior Christian Horry said. “That’s what every basketball player wants. And to be able to hear an opposing crowd just go completely silent and knowing we’re going to win, that’s the best feeling.”

Salesian had taken a one-point lead with 1:30 left on the clock, but Trent Perry made two shots and sank an additional two free throws in the time remaining to seal the win for Harvard-Westlake.

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

in the first half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Amir Jones, right, celebrates with teammate Isaiah Carroll #24 of Harvard-Westlakeafter after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Robert Hinton #2 of Harvard-Westlake reacts after a offensive foul as Elias Obenyah #2 of Salesian College Prep looks down in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Robert Hinton #2 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Salesian College Prep in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Salesian College Prep in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nikolas Khamenia #4 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Salesian College Prep in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Robert Hinton #2 of Harvard-Westlake reacts against Salesian College Prep after a foul in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Robert Hinton #2 of Harvard-Westlake reacts against Salesian College Prep in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nikolas Khamenia #4 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Salesian College Prep in the second half of a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach David Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake holds up the trophy as they celebrate after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake celebrates with family after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake reacts after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake celebrates with family after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Trent Perry #0 of Harvard-Westlake hugs a coach after defeating Salesian College Prep 50-45 to win a CIF State Division Open Division boys basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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Perry ended the game with 17 points and four rebounds. Robert Hinton scored a game-high 19 points and pulled down four rebounds and Nikolas Khamenia chipped in seven points, seven rebounds and two steals.

The Wolverines (33-3) won Mission League, CIF Southern Section and CIF State titles this season. It was also the second time a Harvard-Westlake team won a state title that day after the girls basketball team won the Division II championship.

“These are two programs that work really hard, that are committed and showed character when it mattered most at the end of the year,” Wolverines coach Dave Rebibo told reporters after the game.

Harvard-Westlake got comfortable midway through the opening frame, playing in transition and tying the game at 6-6 on a a Christian Horry 3-pointer.

The score was tied once more at 8-all before Hinton hit a signature mid-range jumper to pull the Wolverines ahead. Harvard-Westlake closed out the quarter on a 10-0 scoring run.

Zion Yeargin hit back-to-back 3s for Salesian (31-2) at the start of the second quarter, but a turnover and another jump shot from Hinton stopped the Pride’s momentum.

Hinton hit two more shots from the same distance to help Harvard-Westlake gain a 31-27 halftime advantage. The Harvard commit scored 15 points by the break.

“It’s a lot of countless hours spent on that,” Hinton said. “I think it’s definitely one of the strengths of my game. I’m happy the shots were falling tonight, but definitely a lot of hours were put into it.”

Six Salesian players had scored at least two points by halftime, showing the offensive depth that the Pride had. There was little drop-off in energy or ability regardless of who was on the court, and they used that to their advantage in the ensuing quarter.

Salesian held a one-point lead for one minute until Perry sank a free throw to tie the game at 32-all and Khamenia made a basket to put the Wolverines out front once again.

Harvard-Westlake outrebounded Salesian 25-20 in the game and also handled the ball efficiently enough to score 16 points off turnovers.

“It just came down to possession basketball,” Rebibo said. “Both teams probably would love some possessions back, a few that they missed, a couple open looks, and a couple opportunities at quality shots, but at a championship game all bets are off and you just gotta grind out every possession.”

The Pride kept coming back as the second half continued and tied the game again, this time at 42-all, with roughly six minutes remaining in the game.

Perry collected his fourth foul three minutes later, and the Wolverines appeared frantic as they tried to put together plays. Players had rallied the fans with 1:17 remaining on the clock and the Wolverines leading by one point.

That’s when Perry seized the moment, making a jumper with 25 seconds left and fighting all the way.

“The last minute and a half, the switch kind of clicked,” Perry said. “I just didn’t want to lose, and it wasn’t just me — it was my entire team. We locked down on defense. We executed some plays. And just very fortunate down the line that the ball was in my hands and I had to go make a play.”

The Wolverines had silenced the Pride while speaking volumes for the brotherhood that allowed them to compete and win at the highest level two years in a row.

“They believe in each other,” Rebibo said. “You don’t get up for road environments and hostile environments if you don’t have belief in the guy to your left and to your right. And these guys do.”

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