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Loyola surges to the top of Mission League with road win over Crespi

Loyola surges to the top of Mission League with road win over Crespi
Loyola coach Jamal Adams gives instructions during his team's 56-52 road victory over Crespi on Friday night. (Eric Sondheimer)

With a starting lineup of five seniors, all of whom have been at the same high school for four years, coach Jamal Adams of Loyola High has the rare luxury of experiencing some old-fashioned advantages once found in the days before transfers took over. It’s called chemistry, and the Cubs have it, helping them surge to the top in Mission League basketball.

“Guys have bought into each other. It’s their team,” Adams said Friday night after Loyola’s 56-52 road victory over Crespi left the Cubs with a 19-5 record (4-1 in league play). They only need a win over St. Francis on Jan. 25 to clinch the No. 1 seed for the Mission League tournament.

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Anthony Lucenti, the grandson of coaching great Paul Westhead, scored 16 points, including a key basket with 30 seconds left that gave the Cubs a three-point lead.

“I think we’re just playing together,” Lucenti said. “We’re hitting shots and we’re defending. It’s a team game.”

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Crespi (21-4, 3-1) led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter before Loyola starting making three-pointers. Mason Butler hit two three-pointers and Neil Owens had another. Butler finished with 12 points and James Keefe 10. Robert Power made five three-pointers and finished with 17 points for Crespi.

Asked if he thought his team would be in first place at this point in the season, Adams said, “I didn’t expect it. I thought we’d be good but didn’t know we’d be this poised.”

• St. Francis upset Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 72-58. The Knights were without injured standout Ziaire Williams. Dennis Flowers scored 19 points and Andre Henry 18.

• Alemany defeated Chaminade 81-70. Brandon Whitney led Alemany with 26 points. Keith Higgins Jr. scored 21 points and Kenneth Simpson Jr. added 20 for Chaminade.

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• In the Trinity League, St. John Bosco handed Santa Ana Mater Dei another rare league defeat for the second consecutive season. The Braves held on for 77-74 victory. St. John Bosco is tied for first place with Mater Dei at 3-1. It’s quite a coaching job by Matt Dunn, who lost his top player, Jonathan Salazar, to a knee injury in December.

Chris James led St. John Bosco with 25 points. Josh Camper had 19 points and Josh Adoh 18. Devin Askew led Mater Dei with 24 points.

• Orange Lutheran defeated JSerra 76-74. Josh Griffin scored 21 points for the Lancers and Trey Anderson 16.

• Santa Margarita defeated Servite 62-50. Max Agbonkpolo scored 20 points and Jake Kyman 15 points.

• Jaime Jaquez of Camarillo set a school record by scoring 54 points in an 82-54 win over Royal. He also had 17 rebounds.

• In the Del Rey League, Bishop Montgomery defeated Cantwell-Sacred Heart 122-18. Isaiah Johnson scored 22 points.

• St. Anthony received 22 points from Jadon Jones in an 84-66 win over Gardena Serra.

• In the Baseline League, Etiwanda stayed unbeaten with a 61-50 win over Chino Hills. Brantly Stevenson scored 15 points.

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• Malik Thomas scored 39 points in Damien’s 74-61 win over Los Osos.

• Birmingham defeated Granada Hills 61-42 in the West Valley League. Corey Cofield scored 18 points, David Elliott 16 and Tyrese Windham 14.

• Trabuco Hills defeated Tesoro in overtime 52-49.

• Oak Park defeated Simi Valley 73-38. Clark Slajchert finished with 29 points.

• Drake London scored 25 points in Moorpark’s 75-68 win over Agoura.

• Sierra Canyon defeated Crossroads 72-43. Cassius Stanley had 19 points.

• Valencia remained in first place in the Foothill League after a 68-55 win over Saugus. Richard Kawakami scored 28 points for Valencia. Adrian McIntyre led Saugus with 24 points.

• Calabasas defeated Westlake 68-58. Freshman Ramel Lloyd scored 21 points for Calabasas.

• Sophomore Daniel Esparza of Sonora scored a school-record 45 points in a 77-62 win over Troy.

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