Templeton High’s basketball team had a fantastic final run to finish its regular season with eight straight wins and a second-place finish in the Los Padres League.
Then Harvard-Westlake happened.
The Eagles struggled to stay with the taller and more athletic team from Studio City and were simply outmatched on their home court Wednesday, losing 75-46 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.
The high scorer for the Wolverines was cheered on by a Hall of Fame Major League baseball player.
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David Winfield Jr., who was simply too tall and too long for the Eagles at 6-foot-9, dominated the paint with 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks, including a punishing swat out of bounds in the second half.
The Eagles were led by Clark Burton with 13 points. Jackson Wheeler had seven points and seven rebounds, while Andy Garretson was held to seven points and six rebounds, well below his team-leading average of 16 points per contest.
“We really haven’t seen a team like this,” Templeton coach Fred Price said. “We’re used to being taller than most teams. Tonight, we were smaller and they were quicker. But we didn’t quit. We played hard until the end.”
Winfield Jr., who has verbally committed to Pennsylvania, scored six of the first eight points in the game and was able to get clean looks at layups off pick-and-rolls and passes into the post to establish an early presence.
The Eagles kept the game within reach after a quarter when the score was 14-6, but stifling ball pressure that contributed to 20 turnovers by Templeton in the contest allowed things to get out of control in the second quarter for the Eagles.
At the half, the score was 37-13, and by the time Templeton was able to settle their nerves a bit to score 15 in the third, they were behind 56-28.
In the stands, former Major League great Dave Winfield said his son is starting to feel comfortable now late in the season after an operation on his knee prior to this year’s start. Wednesday’s game was his highest scoring game of the season.
“He basically had a bump near his kneecap that needed to be removed,” said Winfield, who stands 6-6 and was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks before starting his illustrious baseball career. “He’s feeling good. He’s coming along … I can’t go inside on him anymore in 1-on-1 games. He’s too big, too long.”
Harvard-Westlake — the eighth-seeded team in Division 4AA — entered the CIF-Southern Section playoffs as the fourth-place team from the Mission League.
Seven players for Harvard-Westlake are 6-4 or taller, and Price said his players played a little bit intimidated.
He said they were able to calm themselves, but the skill level of the Wolverines was simply too much.
Price credited his seniors, including Garretson, Wheeler and Alex Elterman (who had 10 points in the game) with leading the team to its eight-game win streak that put the Eagles in position to have a playoff home game in front of their fans.
“I think any time you get to play at home in the playoffs in the first round, you’ve accomplished a lot,” said Garretson, a 6-6 center. “We just ran into a team that made it really hard to stand our ground down low. But I’ve had a great high school experience playing basketball. I’ve loved it.”