The Harvard-Westake boys basketball team was back in action last Friday after almost a full week off and didn't disappoint a raucous student-section in its first true home game of the young year.
After a slow start, the Wolverines pulled away in the second quarter for a 76-59 nonleague victory against Heritage Christian (North Hills, CA.)
Harvard-Westlake's high-scoring trio of Ali “Wood” Iken, Wolfgang Novogratz and fantastic freshman Cassius Stanley led the way again.
Iken scored 22 points, including five 3-pointers, Stanley scored 19 points and Novogratz 14.
“My teammates found me open on the wing,” Iken said. “We got into a good rhythm after the first quarter.”
Harvard-Westlake didn't have trouble scoring but stopping its pesky opponent in the first eight minutes proved troublesome.
The score was tied 17-17 after one quarter before Harvard-Westlake got its act together.
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Aided by Heritage Christian guards Keithan Jureidini (shoulder injury) and Juhwan Harris-Dyson (foul trouble) both leaving the game, Harvard-Westlake pounced on its weakened opponent for a 30-8 run.
“Our guys came through when we had to,” Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo said. “We never panicked. It just takes us some time to figure it all out here early in the season.”
Heritage Christian would not recover despite never giving up completely.
Harvard-Westlake withstood a mini 12-4 run in the third quarter and saw a nearly 30-point lead dwindle to under 15 points.
However, it was a case of too little, too late.
Iken was hot in the final 16 minutes with 11 of his game-high 22 points.
Stanley dazzled the crowd, including a wild student-section with five slam dunks. Stanley had a rebound one-handed putback dunk in the first half and drove the baseline from the right for a one-handed power dunk out of the reach of a Heritage Christian defender.
“When I see daylight I just go for it,” Stanley said. “I just take off when I see the opportunity. It's cool to get the place jumping out of control.”
Najeem Nawabi scored 19 points, freshman Jonathan Daniels scored 17 points and Saugus transfer Zion Bozart added 12 to lead Heritage Christian.
Nawabi made five 3-pointers, Daniels and Bozart two each.
Harvard-Westlake is back in action Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in the El Segundo tournament taking on the tournament host.