Brady Dunlap is clutch late as Harvard-Westlake edges Sierra Canyon in playoffs

Harvard-Westlake's Brady Dunlap celebrates with fans after a 63-60 win at Sierra Canyon on Friday night.
Harvard-Westlake’s Brady Dunlap (17 points) celebrates with fans after a 63-60 win at Sierra Canyon on Friday night. The Wolverines advanced to the Southern Section Open Division title game.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Close to 1,000 fans packed into Sierra Canyon’s tiny gym in Chatsworth on Friday night for a basketball game against Studio City Harvard-Westlake that for once involved more than trying to identify celebrities sitting courtside. Even seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry recognized the game’s importance, tweeting, “The game of the week is this.”

With a berth in the Southern Section Open Division championship game at stake, the two teams rose to the occasion, playing with extreme energy on defense and battling for rebounds as if each one might make the difference between victory and defeat.

Brady Dunlap, a 6-foot-7 junior, delivered clutch shot after clutch shot in the fourth quarter to help Harvard-Westlake pull out a 63-60 victory. At the end, when Dylan Metoyer missed a potential tying three-point attempt at the buzzer, it was bedlam as Harvard-Westlake students charged the court. Dunlap, who had 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, was so emotional afterward that he was in tears as one player after another hugged and congratulated him.

“It felt so good to be together and win as a team,” Dunlap said. “Emotions overcame all of us, and we’re all crying.”

Another player coming through for Harvard-Westlake (24-2) was Cameron Thrower, who scored 18 points. Jacob Huggins contributed 10 rebounds, and Landon Lewis had 11 points.

“He’s a big-time player,” coach David Rebibo said of Dunlap.


Harvard-Westlake now gets to face top-seeded Corona Centennial for the Open Division championship on Friday night at Centennial. Incredibly, Harvard-Westlake has beaten the Huskies five straight times.

“We know it’s going to be a war,” Rebibo said. “We’re thrilled to have a chance to play them.”

Harvard-Westlake's Landon Lewis, right, dunks over Sierra Canyon's Kijani Wright late in the game.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Because Sierra Canyon (24-4) had only two team fouls, the Trailblazers were stuck trying to force a turnover in the final 24 seconds. Not until there were 7.3 seconds left did Trent Perry finally go to the line for a one-and-one. He made both free throws. Then came Sierra Canyon’s frantic attempt to tie. Amari Bailey scored 21 points for Sierra Canyon.

The first half was tied at 10, 12, 19 and 24. Four dunks in the second quarter, two by Bailey and two by Trentyn Flowers, ignited the Trailblazers to a 34-29 halftime lead. The score was also tied at 46, 48, 54, 56. In the end, Harvard-Westlake showed enough poise to handle Sierra Canyon’s full-court pressure defense and Dunlap found a way to supply enough offense to take down the Trailblazers.

Kalib LaCount finished with 35 points on Friday as King/Drew rallied for a 53-49 victory over Palisades in the City Section Open Division playoffs.

In the opening games of the City Section Open Division playoffs, defending champion Lake Balboa Birmingham, the No. 6 seed, upset No. 3 Venice 51-44. Larry Olayinka finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks. No. 2 Fairfax defeated El Camino Real 62-48. No. 1 Taft received seven three-pointers and 33 points from Jordan Collins in a 66-60 win over Harbor City Narbonne.

Kalib LaCount made six threes and scored 35 points as King/Drew held off Palisades 53-49. Tuesday’s semifinals will have King/Drew at Taft and Birmingham at Fairfax.