Revenge week is coming up for Harvard-Westlake and the Wolverines are clicking on all cylinders after a string of three impressive wins, capped by Saturday afternoon’s 74-54 victory over Foothill in one of the feature games of Nike Extravaganza XXIX inside Mater Dei High’s Meruelo Athletic Center in Santa Ana.
Harvard-Westlake, ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times, shifted to a higher gear in the second half and pulled away from the No. 19 Knights in the sixth game on Day 2 of the annual hoops showcase that featured eight teams in The Times’ Top 25 and four of the top five schools in California.
Senior point guard Trent Perry led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, junior forward Nikolas Khamenia added 16 points, senior guard Josh Engelberg had 13 points and senior guard Robert Hinton had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Wolverines, who improved to 23-3 with maximum energy and effort over the final 16 minutes after being tied 32-32 at intermission.
“Losing is humbling for anyone, especially when your expectations are so high,” Perry said. “It made jus realize we’re not unbeatable. We’re playing better now, we’re not going to be lazy. Each game is a great opportunity and this win gives us positive momentum heading into the [Mission League] tournament. Coach told us at halftime to make your defense your offense and we got into transition and got easy buckets.”
Since back-to-back league losses to No. 1 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Jan. 17 and No. 3 Sierra Canyon two days later, Harvard-Westlake has been looking more like the team that opened the season with 15 straight wins and spent one month at the top of The Times weekly rankings. Having blown out Chaminade and St. Francis by 30-point margins on Wednesday and Friday and handling a gritty Foothill squad Saturday, the Wolverines suddenly have their swagger back and that could spell trouble for future foes.
“We’re hungrier and we’re ready to go to battle,” added sophomore center Dominique Bentho, who had five points and six rebounds. “We learned from those losses and we’re tougher. They taught us to go 100 percent, no matter who we’re playing. We know what to expect, we dialed in on our mistakes. The No. 1 seed is the goal.”
Having dealt Notre Dame its first loss with a comeback win Friday, Sierra Canyon will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s Mission League Tournament and thus gets to avoid playing Notre Dame or Havard-Westlake until the league championship game Friday.The league is so strong that it may feature the top three seeds in the Open Division playoffs when brackets are released next Sunday. Looming for Harvard-Westlake on Wednesday is a rematch with Notre Dame, which prevailed 59-54 in the teams’ previous meeting.
“We’re moving the ball more and playing harder defense — that’s the biggest difference,” Perry said. “Watching the film we lost those games because the ball wasn’t moving and when you don’t move the ball it makes you easier to defend.”
Isaiah Bernard scored 12 points, Danny Kennard had 11 and Mansur McClain added 10 for Foothill (18-8).
In other Nike Extravaganza games Saturday:
Bishop Gorman 64, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 53 — Playing without stars Mercy Miller and Angelino Mark, the Knights suffer their second defeat in as many nights despite 25 points and eight rebounds from Zachary White. Notre Dame (24-2), ranked No. 1 by The Times, carried a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter only to be outscored 31-5 in the last eight minutes.
“Those guys have been dealing with injuries,” center Bronson Schmidt-Uili said of Miller and Mark after contributing five points and six rebounds. “If they were able to play I’m sure they would’ve. We didn’t want them to push it. Better that they rest and be ready for the league tournament. We have a lot to learn from these last two games—it’s a wake-up call.”
Mark scored 21 for the Knights in Friday’s 81-75 loss to No. 3 Sierra Canyon but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, later saying he pulled a muscle. Miller scored 28 for Notre Dame, which had its 30-game winning streak snapped. Jordan Ballard had seven and Luther Tostrud added six Saturday against the top team from Las Vegas.
“We were winning games so easily, we needed that last night,” White said. “As for today, this team got us at a low point. It took awhile to adjust to not having my point guard and my main scorer, but we got it going in the third quarter. Moving forward we have to step up our defensive rebounds and be better against the press.”
Ilan Nikolov scored 18 points and Jett Washington added 16 for the Gaels (18-4), the No. 2-ranked team in Nevada behind Henderson Liberty.
JSerra 54, St. Augustine 48 — Aidan Fowler scored 18 points and Sebastian Rancik added 14 as the Lions (22-4), ranked No. 9 by The Times, capped a successful week in which they beat Trinity League rival Mater Dei for the first time in 20 years and knocked off Orange Lutheran in the return of coach Keith Wilkinson, who served a six-game suspension for throwing a pair of shoes on the court in a Jan. 4 loss at Mater Dei.
“It was great having Coach back, it was a real energy boost and we were motivated to win for him,” said Fowler, who scored 36 points in a 68-62 upset of Mater Dei on Wednesday. “Today was all mental, it’s tiring having to play games back-to-back but we sucked it up. We have two [league] games left and we want to finish strong. Our goal from the start of the season was to make the Open Division.”
Jaden Bailes scored 17 points and Ian de la Rosa added 12 for the Saints (21-4), ranked third in the San Diego Section.
Modesto Christian 88, Lynwood 78 — Point guard Jason Crowe Jr. poured in a Nike Extravaganza record 44 points on 16-of-36 shooting but that was not quite enough to lift the Knights (17-9) to victory. Chace Holley had 17 points and Jahaz Wright added 13 for Lynwood, which got outscored 17-0 off the bench. Gavin Sykes and Marcus Washington scored 25 apiece as the Crusaders (19-3), ranked third in the Sac-Joaquin Section, won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Mira Costa 63, Orange Lutheran 54 — Eneasi Piuleini scored 20 points, Jacob De Armas scored 19 and each got a steal and a dunk in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory for the Mustangs (18-8) in a back and forth contest that featured 11 lead changes and four ties. Christian Kranz contributed nine assists and four steals for Mira Costa. Jaden Hubbard scored 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and Preston Lee added 12 points and four steals for the Lancers (9-15), who were ahead 42-39 entering the fourth quarter.
Aliso Niguel 58, St. Margaret’s 54 — Kodai Fujii scored 16 points, including a pair of clinching free throws with 1.6 seconds left, and Jay Keys added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines (19-7), who led by 13 entering the fourth quarter. Cameron Dye scored 15 points, Mark Cyr had 14 and Russell Frye added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Tartars (13-9) one night after recording 25 points and nine rebounds in an Orange Coast League victory over Estancia.
Campbell Hall 57, Anaheim Canyon 44 — Baron Bellamy scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half and added six rebounds and five steals for the Vikings (11-14), No. 2 in CIF-SS Division 2AA. Isaiah Johnson had 14 points, Aaron Powell had nine and Aliaun Iscandari added eight points and three assists for Campbell Hall, which never trailed and led why as many as 19t. Jordan Garcia had 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists for the Comanches (20-6), ranked No. 24 by The Times, who were missing leading scorer Jaden Goodall, nursing a knee injury. His twin brother Josh had eight points and six rebounds.