Corona Centennial dominates Harvard-Westlake to repeat as Open Division champions

Corona Centennial guard Eric Freeney prepares to attempt a layup against Harvard-Westlake.
Corona Centennial guard Eric Freeney goes coast to coast for a basket against Harvard-Westlate in the first half Friday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A cozy, packed, noisy Corona Centennial gymnasium was the scene on Friday night for a true glimpse of what big-boy basketball looks like in Southern California. And no team is playing better than the 30-1 Huskies.

Facing a surging Studio City Harvard-Westlake team that rose up to knock off Chatsworth Sierra Canyon last week, Centennial turned up the defensive pressure to win a second consecutive Southern Section Open Division title with 68-48 victory.

Centennial opened a 17-point halftime lead while holding Harvard-Westlake to no field goals and six free throws in the second quarter. The Wolverines badly missed their most valuable player, Cameron Thrower, who went to the bench with three fouls at the 7:43 mark. Harvard-Westlake (24-3) never got closer than eight points in the second half.

The game was further proof how Centennial has separated itself the last two seasons.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win back to back,” said junior guard Jared McCain, who scored 20 points and delivered three momentum-changing three-pointers in the second half.


Centennial was supposed to return all five starters from last season’s championship team, but star guard Kylan Boswell transferred to a team in Arizona. Some thought the Huskies wouldn’t be the same. In fact, they were even better because it cleared the way for the guard duo of McCain and Donovan Dent to show how good it could be, serving as motivation to prove to people the team was still good.

“When Kylan left, people thought we couldn’t do anything,” McCain said.

Dent has been the team MVP all season with his court leadership and ability to drive and dish. McCain, being recruited by UCLA, Gonzaga and Duke, demonstrated his clutch three-point shooting skills.

“They’re as good as we thought,” Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo said of Dent and McCain.

Dent scored 11 points and three times his assists led to dunks. Centennial’s big men, Devin Williams and Aaron McBride, scored 17 and 10 points, respectively. Brady Dunlap scored 18 points and Thrower had 15 of his 17 points in the second half for Harvard-Westlake.

“This shows how tough they are,” Centennial coach Josh Giles said as he proudly watched his players receive their championship awards.

Last season, the pandemic prevented the Huskies from competing for a state championship. They chose to not even participate in the regional playoffs.

Now they will get to play for a trip to Sacramento for a state title. They should be seeded No. 1 for the Southern California Open Division regional when pairings are announced Sunday.

“Finally we get to play for a state title,” McCain said. “That’s been on my dream board for a while. I got to get a state title.”


In City Section Division I boys, Van Nuys Grant won its first basketball championship with a 53-48 win over top-seeded Westchester. Jeremiah Windham scored 20 points to lead the Lancers.

In City Section Open Division girls, Lake Balboa Birmingham defeated Westchester 51-46. Janna Holley led the Patriots with 18 points.

In Southern Section Division 1, Playa del Rey St. Bernard defeated San Juan Capistrano JSerra 71-59.