As Johnny Juzang matures, so does Studio City Harvard-Westlake. A highly recruited 6-foot-7 junior, Juzang used to be all about making three-pointers. Now he’s about efficiency. His medium-range jump shot has become precise and his game keeps rising.
He scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds Friday night to help the Wolverines defeat Loyola 53-44 in the first Mission League tournament championship game at Mission Hills Alemany.
You could tell from the outset how focused Juzang was. He let out a primal scream after making a three-pointer early on. He and his teammates were determined to avenge a 66-61 loss to the Cubs on Jan. 11.
And it happened. Loyola (21-6) missed 19 of its first 20 field-goal attempts, fell behind by 16 points in the first half and was down 22 points in the third quarter.
Of course, the senior-dominated Cubs found a way to mount a comeback.
They closed to within eight points near the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but Juzang and Truman Gettings (14 points) were too much to overcome.
Gettings’ name is pretty familiar to Loyola fans even though he plays for Harvard-Westlake.
He has known Loyola’s coaches since he was 10, and he watched his older brother, Stone, play for the Cubs. The Loyola game is always a challenge for him.
“It’s a lot of love for Loyola,” he said. “It’s fun to play against them but it’s hard.”
James Keefe and Neil Owens each scored 12 points for Loyola.
Harvard-Westlake improved to 19-7 and will learn Saturday whether it will earn one of the eight spots in the Southern Section Open Division playoffs. It’s a longshot but the Southern Section held off announcing a final bracket until after Friday’s games.
“It’s winning time,” Juzang said, knowing the Wolverines must keep winning or go home. They are likely to land in Division 1.
There was an upset in the Baseline League when Chino Hills received 22 points from Onyeka Okongwu to defeat league champion Etiwanda 60-52. Etiwanda is still likely to be in the Open Division.
The top seeds in the division should be decided Saturday when Chatsworth Sierra Canyon plays Temecula Rancho Christian in a 7:30 p.m. game at Pasadena City College.
In the City Section, the Open Division top seeds appear clear, with Fairfax No. 1, Westchester No. 2, Birmingham No. 3 and Taft No. 4.
Birmingham got two free throws from Keaton Scott with eight-tenths of a second left in overtime to defeat Granada Hills 66-64.
Keith Dinwiddie scored 28 points to help Fairfax defeat University 70-51. Fairfax (24-1) won seven games over the last nine days to emerge as the top team in the City Section.
City Section pairings will be announced Saturday and the complete Southern Section pairings will be announced Sunday.