Trent Perry takes over, leads Harvard-Westlake basketball past Carlsbad in CIF regional semifinals

STUDIO CITY — For some, 13 is an unlucky number.

For Trent Perry, it was a good omen Saturday night.

The Harvard-Westlake star point guard attempted 13 free throws and made all 13, including two of them with 3.8 seconds left in the game on his way to a 40-point performance to help lead his team to a 73-72 victory over Carlsbad in the CIF SoCal Regional Open Division semifinals.

“I didn’t want to lose,” said Perry, who had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with his 40 points. “Not just for me, but for the other seniors, the juniors, everyone on the team who works so hard. I couldn’t let them down.”

“He just made a decision that we weren’t going to lose,” Harvard-Westlake head coach David Rebibo said. “When he’s locked in like that, it carries over. They’re kids and you know they’re going to have good nights and bad nights and off nights, but he responded and the rest of the guys followed and we got through it.”

With Harvard-Westlake down by eight points at halftime, Perry kicked it into high gear, scoring 13 points in the third quarter to bring the Wolverines and Lancers to a tie at the end of the frame.

While Perry was elevating the offense in the third quarter, the Wolverines keyed in on defense too, holding the Lancers to 11 points in the quarter after giving up 41 in the first half.

“Basketball is a team game. It wasn’t just one guy, the entire team locked down on defense,” Perry said. “The first half was a struggle, but as a team we just came together.”

For as well as Harvard-Westlake played in the second half, that antithesis was true in the first two quarters.

Carlsbad came out with a higher level of energy and sense of urgency that Harvard-Westlake struggled to match.

Tony Duckett, Jake Hall and Euan Davis each scored nine points in the first half, and big man Jael Martin had seven points with a handful of blocks.

A 3-pointer by Duckett in the second quarter gave Carlsbad a 30-19 lead, as the Lancers’ scorching start put them in a great position to succeed.

“I told them in the locker room I’ve never been as proud of a team as I was tonight,” Carlsbad head coach Clark Allard said. “We told them for the last couple days preparing for this game that if we didn’t come out here thinking we could win, they were going to blow us out.

“You can tell in the first half that our guys took that to heart. They battled on every possession, they rebounded, we got 50-50 balls. We didn’t come down here just happy for the bus ride, we came here to win.”

Carlsbad didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal in the second half. The Lancers continued to play aggressively on both ends of the court.

The difference was Harvard-Westlake picked up the energy and execution on its end, swinging the momentum in its favor as the game progressed.

“Energy, execution, aggression. I thought all three of those for two and half quarters were lacking,” Rebibo said. “But we have great character and we responded. We fought back.”

Aiding Perry in the scoring category was junior forward Nikolas Khamenia, who finished with a loaded box score of 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Wolverines made it a point to get Khamenia involved early and often, looking for him in the post with his height advantage. He scored the first six points for Harvard-Westlake.

Isaiah Carroll added seven points off the bench, including a 3-pointer, and Robert Hinton scored four points to go along with nine rebounds.

Duckett led Carlsbad with 23 points and Hall finished with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. Martin added 15 points and five blocks.

Harvard-Westlake will host Roosevelt in the regional final Tuesday night with the winner earning a trip to Sacramento to play in the state championship game.

Roosevelt defeated St. Joseph 58-41 in the other semifinal Saturday.

Tuesday’s game will be a rematch of the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game, which the Wolverines won 54-47 a little over a week ago.

Perry said he and the team will be ready for the challenge.

If there’s one thing Harvard-Westlake has learned this season, it’s how to persevere, through the difficulties and the successes.

“Perseverance. Just a lot of perseverance,” Perry said when asked to describe this season. “Even though there were a couple wins that weren’t pretty and we took some losses, throughout the season we had to persevere, come together as a group and have substance. Coach Rebibo does a really great job just making sure we play the right way and play as a family. Not too many teams can persevere through what we went through.”

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