BURBANK - It was a battle within a battle when the Providence High boys’ basketball team hosted Campbell Hall Friday night in a nonleague game.
While the matchup between the teams was intriguing, it was a head-to-head competition between two of the top sophomores in the nation - Marcus LoVett Jr. of the Pioneers and Aaron Holiday of the Vikings - that captivated the crowd.
The matchup turned out to be an epic battle, as LoVett poured in a game-high 47 points and Holiday ended with 40.
The game was a thriller, as well. Providence, down by as many as 20 in the third quarter, staged a huge comeback in the fourth to send the contest into overtime. However, in the end it would be Campbell Hall that would walk away with a 91-86 victory.
“We are very fortunate in the Valley to have not only two of the most outstanding sophomores in the state, but two of the best sophomores in the nation,” Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville said. “We saw what they could do tonight.”
LoVett willed his team to a hard-fought comeback by tallying 16 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Holiday did most of his damage in the first three quarters after fouling out with 3:11 remaining in regulation.
Both players said they relished the opportunity to go against one another.
“When the two of us go against each other it’s gonna be a show,” LoVett said. “I know he did a good job and I did a pretty good job, but we just weren’t able to come out with the win.”
Said Holiday: “It was nice to go against him as a player. But this is a team sport and the most important thing was being able to win the game. I just wanted our team to play hard and that’s what we did.”
The Pioneers (4-12) dug themselves a huge hole and trailed, 69-49, with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter. But LoVett led the comeback charge in the fourth, scoring 11 straight Providence points at one point.
He tallied a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to tie the score at 77. Campbell Hall (11-4) had a final possession in regulation, but a shot by Kahlil Simplis missed its mark.
However, Simplis more than made up for that miss by scoring seven points in the overtime period.
LoVett didn’t score in overtime, but teammate Christian Ware-Berry (24 points) had five in OT.
Jon Ly added 13 for the Pioneers.
“We played with a lot of heart, and I’m proud of our guys for that,” Baskerville said. “We played real hard and that’s what I try to instill in the guys.
“But when it came down to it it was about rebounding, and they did a better job at that than we did.”