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Pearson Takes Notre Dame for Ride to the Top

Boys' basketball: Senior scores 28 points to help first-place Knights defeat Loyola, 71-55.


SHERMAN OAKS — Cody Pearson didn't have a jet pack attached to his body--it only seemed that way.

Soaring for rebounds with boundless energy and scoring whenever his team needed a lift, Pearson turned in a dominating performance Monday night, contributing 28 points, 13 rebounds and five steals to Notre Dame High's 71-55 Mission League basketball victory over Loyola at Notre Dame.

The Knights (20-5, 8-3 in league play) took a half-game lead over Crespi (7-3) with one to play. Notre Dame can clinch at least a share of the Mission title by defeating sixth-place Harvard-Westlake on Wednesday night.

Pearson was honored in a pregame ceremony for being Notre Dame's all-time scoring leader. He responded by making eight of 14 shots and 12 of 13 free throws.

"Cody is amazing," Coach Rob DiMuro said. "It's no secret to us. He's been doing it every day for four years. It was vintage Cody."

In avenging a 10-point loss to Loyola (16-7, 7-4) last month, the Knights benefited from getting more players involved in their offense. Michael Luderer had 13 points, Josh Smith added 10 points, and centers David Hungerford and Stepney Johnson combined for 14 points.

"We knew we had a job to do," Pearson said. "We took [Loyola] for granted the first time."

Not long ago, Notre Dame was sending out distress signals after losing three of four Mission games. The Knights were like a ship taking on water, with no one knowing who would fix the leaks.

DiMuro instructed his players to batten down the hatches and not panic. They appear to have plugged their holes and weathered the storm.

"With 11 seniors on this team, you lose a few games you can't let it get to you," Pearson said.

Added DiMuro: "I felt like Phil Jackson. I was waiting for the boys to come back around."

Pearson, a 6-foot-4 senior, has accepted the task of leading the Knights back to the top of the league standings.

"He's been very focused on trying to get us where we want to be," DiMuro said.

Other players have stepped forward to help. Hungerford scored three consecutive baskets in the second quarter Monday, a critical offensive contribution that helped Notre Dame lead at halftime, 35-29.

Sophomores Omar Wilkes and Chris Rucker scored 17 and 16 points for Loyola, which plays Crespi on Wednesday.

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