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No. 3 Loyola 77, Harvard-Westlake 74

NORTHRIDGE -- When prep basketball fans from across the Southland take a look at the final score of Friday's game between Los Angeles Loyola and Harvard-Westlake, chances are that the masses will be under the impression the showdown was close from start to finish.

It wasn't. Far from it, in fact.

Loyola jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half and maintained the advantage for a majority of the second half. Some sloppy play down the stretch, however, resulted in a somewhat close 77-74 Mission League victory at Cal State Northridge.

“We said before the game that we were 20 points better than them, we should have won by more,'' said Loyola's Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “We let them get back into it, but we were not worried. They did not have enough time on the clock to close things out.''

The Cubs (20-3, 18-3) took a nine-point lead with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. The No. 3 team in the ESPNLosAngeles top 20 rankings took it easy from there on out and conceded some rather easy baskets to the desperate Wolverines (15-8, 6-4).

“We have a big rivalry with Harvard-Westlake and I think we put so much energy into building a big lead that we were spent towards the end,'' Loyola coach Jamal Adams said. “I wouldn't say we were overly concerned about coming up short.''

Julian Harrell got off to a quick start. The senior and Penn commit scored 10 points in the first quarter and had 15 in the first half to help Loyola take a 38-26 lead at the break. Harvard-Westlake had trouble stopping Harrell, who finished with 23 points.

Derrick Newton kept the Wolverines close throughout. The 6-foot-5 sophomore went toe-to-toe with Harrell and scored a game-high 26 points.

Newton's efforts were particularly important considering Zena Edosomwan struggled for a majority of the first half and had a mere five points before intermission. The highly-touted senior turned it around in the second half and ended up with 24 points.

“The Cubs are a tough team, they execute well,'' Edosomwan said. “You can't get afford to fall behind against them and hope to win in the fourth quarter.''

Cartwright did a good job of distributing the ball despite facing constant full-court pressure. The sophomore point guard being recruited by several Division I programs, most notably nearby UCLA, finished with 11 points and seven assists.

“We got the win, that's all that matters, Cartwright said.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.