Column: Harvard-Westlake, Damien pull off Open Division upsets

Sierra Canyon's Amari Bailey goes up for a dunk against St. John Bosco. He scored 12 points in 60-46 playoff victory.
Sierra Canyon’s Amari Bailey goes up for a dunk against St. John Bosco. He scored 12 points in 60-46 playoff victory.
(Nick Koza)

Southern California high school basketball fans were denied a March Madness because of COVID-19 restrictions, so it’s time to enjoy a little May Madness.

It began Friday night with No.7-seeded Studio City Harvard-Westlake going on the road to stun No. 2 Corona Centennial 70-65 in an opening game of pool B of the Southern Section Open Division playoffs. A couple of weeks ago, the Wolverines looked out of consideration for an Open Division spot after losing to West Hills Chaminade in perhaps their worst performance of the season. They haven’t lost since. “We got healthy,” coach David Rebibo said.

Cameron Thrower scored 19 points and Brady Dunlap 16. “I thought our defense down the stretch was incredible,” Rebibo said.


The Huskies were without standout guard Kylan Boswell, who’s trying out for a USA national team in Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, the No.1 overall seed, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (13-0), is starting to get its new players comfortable, and that could be a bad sign for the other teams in the Open Division. The Trailblazers received 25 points from former Woodland Hills Taft guard Ramel Lloyd in a 60-46 win over Bellflower St. John Bosco in pool A. Sierra Canyon hasn’t lost a playoff game since the 2017-18 season.

“He’s been coming along slowly every game,” Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said of Lloyd.

Sierra Canyon also unveiled 6-foot-4 San Juan Capistrano JSerra transfer Alpha Chibambe, who contributed four points and will add to the Trailblazers’ inside game and provide rebounding help.

St. John Bosco (19-3) went on a 9-0 run in the third quarter to tie the score before Sierra Canyon took charge by getting key baskets from Lloyd and making lots of free throws. St. John Bosco coach Matt Dunn finally had enough with the officiating with 39.8 seconds left and picked up a technical.


No.6-seeded La Verne Damien traveled to No.3 Santa Mater Dei and beat the Monarchs 55-51. Spivey Word made an open 15-foot shot with 17 seconds left to break a 51-51 deadlock. RJ Smith had 21 points for Damien.

No.4 Etiwanda opened with an 85-74 win over No. 5 Los Angeles Ribet. Marcus Green finished with 37 points. On Monday, Centennial will play host to Damien. The Tuesday schedule has Ribet at Sierra Canyon, St. John Bosco at Etiwanda and Harvard-Westlake at Mater Dei.

In 3AA, Pasadena Maranatha coach Tim Tucker picked up his 500th career coaching victory with a 67-56 triumph over Price. In 3A, Ze’ev Remer scored 31 points to help Shalhevet defeat Inglewood Morningside 68-63. Los Angeles Windward defeated Long Beach St. Anthony 54-49 in Division 1, with UCLA commit Dylan Andrews scoring 15 points. Chaminade held off Villa Park. 85-76 in overtime. Keith Simpson Jr. scored 29 points and Keith Higgins Jr. had 26.

In an opening game of the girls’ Open Division playoffs, Juju Watkins scored 21 points to help Windward defeat Garden Grove Orangewood Academy 64-49.


Manhattan Beach Mira Costa 1, L.A. Loyola 0: Unseeded Mira Costa won the Southern Section Division 1 boys’ championship on a goal by Ben Moglia.