Sierra Canyon boys basketball races past Harvard-Westlake in the second half

CHATSWORTH — Sierra Canyon guard Justin Pippen had three points in the first half Friday night.

He came out a different player in the second half, exploding for 21 of his 24 total points in the final 16 minutes.

He made six total 3-pointers and put his stamp on the final result, with Sierra Canyon defeating Harvard-Westlake 74-68 Friday night in a Mission League boys basketball showdown.

“We’re on his back, we go as he goes,” Sierra Canyon head coach Andre Chevalier said. “He was passing up shots in the first half and his range is two or three feet behind the line and he kept on pump faking. I’m like, ‘Look if we’re going to win this you got to let it fly,’ and he just turned into a monster in the second half. His ability to find his way to the basket, find space to get a shot off, it was impeccable. I think Justin Pippen grew up today.”

Bryce Cofield did his part to assist Pippen offensively down the stretch, scoring 15 total points and coming up with a couple of offensive rebounds and put backs that helped bolster Sierra Canyon’s lead.

Harvard-Westlake had a 58-50 advantage early in the fourth quarter and Pippen and Cofield sparked an 18-0 run that took the Trailblazers over the top.

“We told each other we knew we had to take over the game,” Pippen said. “That’s what we had been doing in practice all week and we were focused.”

Jayden Alexander was an early spark for the Trailblazers, scoring five quick points and recording a steal that got his team to an early lead.

Chevalier stressed the importance of Alexander’s contribution, calling him the “glue guy” for his squad.

“Jayden is growing up right before our eyes,” Chevalier said. “He gets on the ground, he makes open shots, he can play the point, he can play shooting guard. A lot of credit to our success this year goes to Jayden Alexander.

Harvard-Westlake came back in the second quarter behind spirited play from its dynamic backcourt of Robert Hinton and Trent Perry.

Perry had 23 points and Hinton added 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.

Nikolas Khamenia added 18 points for the Wolverines.

Harvard-Westlake suffered a second consecutive loss, having lost to Notre Dame Wednesday.

With the win, Sierra Canyon is tied atop the Mission League with Notre Dame. Both teams are 5-0 in league. The two teams will face off in the league finale Friday, Jan. 26.

Chevalier said he’s going to let his team enjoy the win, but there won’t be much time with another game on the docket Saturday.

“I told them to enjoy this until midnight. We play tomorrow so we can’t even wait until Wednesday,” he said. “But this is what great teams learn to do. You have to be mature enough to win a game and release it and then prepare for the next opponent. So this is going to give us a great test.”

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