April 13, 2024

In a game full of fouls and free throws , it was a foul called with 13 seconds left that sent Robert Hinton to the line in Friday’s Southern Section boys’ basketball championship game that proved decisive and led to Harvard-Westlake securing its first Open Division title with a 54-47 victory over Eastvale Roosevelt at Cal Baptist.

Roosevelt (30-3) had pulled to within 50-47 with on a three-pointer by Darnez Slater. The Mustangs thought they were in position to attempt a potential tying three after Wolverines star Trent Perry missed two free throws with 15 seconds left. But the officials called a foul on the ensuing rebound attempt. Hinton made both and clinched the victory. He finished with 15 points.

“It means everything,” Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo said. “Winning the Southern Section title is an incredible accomplishment.”

Roosevelt coach Stephen Singleton felt his team was constrained by the many whistles . Roosevelt was called for 21 fouls and Harvard-Westlake 14.

“There were phantom calls all day,” Singleton said. “I felt our boys couldn’t play the style we play.”

Said Rebibo: “Not a lot of flow unfortunately. It was a war. They’re really good. They gave us everything we expected. We’ll probably see them again.”

When Harvard-Westlake surged last season during the playoffs to win the Open Division state championship, the rise of then sophomore Nikolas Khamenia made the difference.

Khamenia has been beaten up physically this season. He has grown to 6 feet 8 and is still adjusting to his body. A week off appeared to do the trick. Looking refreshed, focused and comfortable, he scored 15 points and had seven rebounds.

“He was really aggressive,” Rebibo said. “We needed him to have a game like that.”

Another contributor was sophomore Dominique Bentho. “Dominique was incredible defensively and rebounding,” Rebibo said.

As the second-tallest player on the court among a group of talented guards, Khamenia opened the game with a three, then started going inside. He had eight points in the first quarter and 13 by halftime when Harvard-Westlake led 33-27. Getting points inside in an arena setting is always good. Roosevelt made only one of seven from three-point range in the first half and Harvard-Westlake was two for eight. Roosevelt stayed close by making 12 of 14 free throws.

Brayden Burries picked up his third foul in the third quarter trying to stay with Khamenia. Slater helped out with 10 points in the quarter and finished with 18 points while Burries had 14.

A potential rematch could come in the Open Division regionals. Pairings will be announced Sunday afternoon as teams try to earn a trip to Sacramento for the state championship.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Perry, who scored 13 points. “We still have the state tournament. I’m so proud of my team. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. No easy games.”

Division 2AA

St. Anthony 48, Rolling Hills Prep 42: Quincy Phillips scored 18 points to help St. Anthony win the title. Mateo Trujillo led Rolling Hills Prep with 16 points.

Division 5AA

Castaic 63, El Segundo 52: After going 0-12 in Foothill League play, Castaic got hot in the playoffs and won its first Southern Section basketball championship.

City Division I

Washington Prep 64, San Pedro 56: The Generals won the championship in overtime.

City Division III

Carson 62, L.A. Jordan 60: The Colts won the championship in overtime. Ezekiel Harry scored 26 points and Jacob Ortega 20 points for Carson. Davon Jones had 29 points for Jordan.

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