Stanley drives Harvard-Westlake to D-II semifinal

MISSION HILLS, CA – The third time proved quite charming for the Studio City Harvard-Westlake boys’ basketball team Saturday night at Alemany.

The Wolverines lost to Alemany twice in Mission League play, where the Warriors went unbeaten.

But, despite trailing by 11 points after the first quarter Saturday night in a State Southern Regional Division II quarterfinal, Coach David Rebibo’s club finally overcame its Mission League rival, 72-64.

The win moved the Wolverines into another “rematch”, this one on Tuesday night at home against Pasadena in a Division II regional semifinal.

Harvard-Westlake (23-11) beat the Bulldogs, 68-58, in the March 3 CIF Southern Section 1A championship game at Azusa Pacific University.

Pasadena (26-6) knocked off San Marcos Mission Hills Saturday night, 64-57.

Saturday night at Alemany, the host Warriors got a seven-point, four-rebound effort from 6-foot-11 junior Fred Odhiambo to hold a 19-8 advantage going into the second quarter.

From that point on, though, the story was the performances of an elite sophomore and three terrific freshmen.

And all of them wore Harvard-Westlake uniforms.

The sophomore, Cassius Stanley, bounced back from a bad first quarter (missing all four of his shots from the floor while committing two turnovers) to step things up a couple of notches in the second quarter.

Stanley scored eight points with two rebounds and an assist, and two of those freshmen, forwards Johnny Juzang and Tellen Frank, split 12 points as the Wolverines got to within 33-31 at intermission.

The Warriors’ advantage increased to three points after three quarters.

But the fourth quarter was all about Stanley, Juzang and the third of those aforementioned freshmen.

Six-nine Mason Hooks grabbed four rebounds and scored three points in the fourth quarter but his biggest contribution was in putting his big body into Oldhiambo with box outs that led to a couple of over-the-back foul calls, the last of those his disqualifying fifth with 1:15 remaining.

The 6-6 Juzang scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, the last of those via a nifty behind-the-back pass from Stanley for the final points of the game.

When the 6-5 Stanley is “on”, there isn’t a more spectacular player in California.

And that was the case over the final eight minutes when he scored eight points with two rebounds and two assists.

Four of those points were of the “ultra-spectacular” variety that would have done Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James proud, a 360-spin in the air and bank shot, and a emphatic dunk over the top of 6-5, 245-pound K.J. Warren.

In the other Division II quarterfinals Saturday night, Anaheim Esperanza and Santa Monica Crossroads – each of which went 0-2 in the Southern Section Open playoffs, which is why they are now part of the regional Division II field – won to advance to the other semifinal Tuesday night at Esperanza.

Esperanza pounded Bakersfield, 73-47, while Crossroads cruised by L.A. Washington, 81-65.

The Tuesday night will pit two future Pacific 12 forwards, Kezie Okpala (Stanford) of Esperanza and Ira Lee (Arizona) of Crossroads.

The Division I bracket continued to go “chalk” as top four seeds La Verne Damien (60-44 over L.A. Fairfax), Eastvale Roosevelt (82-67 over Oak Park), Woodland Hills Taft (56-55 over Vista) and Corona Centennial (72-64 over Redondo) advanced to Tuesday night semifinals.

Damien will play host to Centennial (which it beat in the first round of the CIF SS Open playoffs) while Taft visits Roosevelt.

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