Soaring to a height so startling that his neck hit the bottom of the backboard on an alley oop pass, freshman Cassius Stanley of Studio City Harvard-Westlake High somehow successfully completed a dunk in the third quarter Saturday afternoon in the state Division IV championship game at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
"It was amazing," Stanley said. "It was everything everyone dreams of, dunking in an NBA arena."
Harvard-Westlake brought a little Hollywood, a little swagger and a litte grit in defeating Salinas Palma, 66-49, to win its first state title since the era of Jason and Jarron Collins in 1997.
It was New York native Wolfgang Novogratz leading the way. He muscled his way to 26 points and eight rebounds. His tenacity and determination seemed to rub off on teammates.
"It's the state championship," he said. "Big-time players make big-time plays. I wanted to win more than them, so I gave everything I had out there."
Stanley, the 6-foot-5 first-year varsity player who has been rolling up YouTube dunks all season, got a lob pass from Novogratz, dunked, was fouled and completed a three-point play to put Harvard-Westlake (27-8) on top by 22 points.
Said Novogratz: "We've had a few unbelievable alley oops during the season. That one I was shocked because I threw it up hoping they were going to foul him. It was unbelievable."
Added Stanley: "I saw it was so high it was either going to end badly or well. I think it ended well."
Stanley finished with 16 points and Carter Begel had 14. Novogratz made 11 of 14 shots and all four free throws. It was a triumph for first-year Coach David Rebibo, who returned to high school coaching after serving as an assistant coach at the University of San Francisco for two seasons.
Long Beach Poly (24-11) could not overcome a severe scoring drought in the second half and was beaten by San Mateo Serra, 48-43.
"We just couldn't put the ball into the hole," Coach Shelton Diggs said.
The score was tied, 19-19, after the first half but 6-5 Jake Killingsworth ignited a third-quarter surge for the Padres (26-5). He finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Zafir Williams was the only Poly player to reach double figures with 16 points and 10 rebounds.