A sellout crowd of more than 1,200 jammed into Loyola High's gym Saturday night in anticipation of the duel between two of the best young basketball guards in Southern California--junior Omar Wilkes of Los Angeles Loyola and sophomore Bryce Taylor of North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake.
Little did anyone suspect that another sophomore guard, Vince Oliver of Loyola, would play a decisive role, scoring 20 points to help the Cubs take over first place in the Mission League with a 73-55 victory.
Loyola (17-3, 6-1), ranked No. 18 by The Times, opened a 10-point halftime lead behind Oliver, who came off the bench to make five of six shots and score 13 points, including a three-point basket, just before halftime.
No. 24 Harvard-Westlake (18-4, 6-2) never got closer than six points in the second half. Loyola's man-to-man defense challenged the Wolverines to beat them with anyone but Taylor. Taylor scored 23 points, making eight of 23 shots. The Wolverines had long stretches when no one other than Taylor scored. Harris Chung was the only other threat with 13 points.
"Bryce is such a good player you have to hope he had an off night shooting," Loyola Coach Jim Williamson said.
Loyola had better balance on offense, with Wilkes contributing 19 points and Josh Flynn-Brown scoring 12. But this was a game in which the 6-foot-1 Oliver got his opportunity to show how talented he is in front of assistant coaches from Stanford and USC.
He played junior varsity last season because Williamson wanted to bring him along slowly.
"He was only a freshman [last year] and I feel it's important for young guards to develop and learn the game," Williamson said. "It's a four-year process, and there's no rushing him. He's made a nice impact for our team coming off the bench."
Three weeks ago, Harvard-Westlake defeated the Cubs, 94-87. But this time, it was Loyola making the extra pass to get players open, setting stronger screens and diving for more loose balls.
"We've been working on defense ever since the last time we played them," Oliver said. "We felt it was one of our weaknesses."
Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley 58, San Clemente 44--Pete Decasas scored 19 points and Matt Sweany had 18 as the No. 21 Cougars, improved to 19-5, 6-1 with the South Coast League victory at home.
Sophomore Marcus Blackshire had 15 points for the Tritons.
West Hills Chaminade 69, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 57--Marcus Everett, Adrian Aye-Darko, Kevin Hiraiwa and Jerred Link each scored 12 points for Chaminade (17-5, 6-2) in a Mission League victory at Notre Dame.
BeeWee Valleseron scored 16 points for Notre Dame (7-15, 3-5).