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High School Basketball / State Championship

Twin Titles

Division III: Collinses each score 24, Harvard-Westlake repeats as state champion, 80-50.

March 23, 1997|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Brother, what a finale.

Harvard-Westlake High capped another dominant season and the prep careers of twins Jarron and Jason Collins by winning a second consecutive state Division III title with an 80-50 victory over San Mateo Hillsdale on Saturday at the Pond.

Jason, a 6-foot-10 center, and Jarron, a 6-9 forward, signed with Stanford before the season began. When it ended, they were entangled among a pile of players at center court, a celebration that extended beyond basketball.

"This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," said Ryan Smiley, who had 12 points. "The thing that will stick with me are the friendships."

The Wolverines (36-1), who earlier this season won a third consecutive Southern Section title and are 66-3 in two years, will say goodbye to nine seniors, including the Collinses, and an era that likely will not be duplicated at the Studio City private school.

"It's very sad," Harvard-Westlake Coach Greg Hilliard said. "There are a lot of emotions flying around--about three-quarters of them good."

The twins were unstoppable against Hillsdale (30-1), which had no player taller than 6-4 and had not seen the like of the Collinses during its undefeated run.

Jason and Jarron each scored 24 points. Jason's inside basket seconds after the opening tip set the pace. Jarron's five consecutive baskets to close the first quarter extended the lead to 29-12.

And so it went.

Jarron had eight rebounds and three authoritative dunks.

Jason left briefly in the third quarter because of a sprained ankle but returned to finish with 17 rebounds to raise his career total to 1,500--a Southern Section record.

The Collinses exited the game to separate standing ovations minutes apart in the fourth quarter. Smiley, Rico Cabrera and point guard Victor Munoz also received ovations.

"The chemistry on this team is the best I've ever seen," Jason Collins said.

"We've been together as a team. We set our goals at the beginning of the season and we went out and accomplished them."

Harvard-Westlake, selected state team of the year by Cal-Hi Sports, faced little challenge this season. The Wolverines' only defeat was a four-point loss to national power Mt. Zion Christian Academy of Durham, N.C., during a tournament in Las Vegas.

Harvard-Westlake routed perennial power Mater Dei, 64-38, in the same tournament.

"It's not just the twins, it's the whole team," Hillsdale Coach Bill Wilkin said. "You have to give their other players credit."

Jarron had one blocked shot, Jason none. But the twins' intimidating inside presence was enough to stifle the Knights' attack.

"They're the best players I ever played against," said forward Arjuna Manning-Laisne, who scored 13 points for Hillsdale.

Harvard-Westlake won 27 games by 20 or more points and finished the season with 26 consecutive victories.

"We were very confident," Jarron Collins said. "They were a little intimidated at the beginning. Our thing was, we needed to stay focused and play Harvard-Westlake basketball."

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