Notre Dame boys basketball takes down Harvard-Westlake to remain unbeaten in Mission League

Mercy Miller is all smiles as Notre Dame defeats Harvard-Westlake in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame High School players react after defeating Harvard-Westlake Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlakexe2x80x99s Trent Perry gets by tries to get by Notre Dame defenders Bronson Schmidt-Uili during their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Angelino Mark of Notre Dame scrambles for a loose ball against Harvard-Westlake in a Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlakexe2x80x99s Trent Perry gets to the hoop against Notre Dame in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Mercy Miller of Notre Dame is upended as they defeat Harvard-Westlake in a Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller puts up a shot against Harvard-Westlake in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Former Notre Dame High School standout Dusty Stromer looks on as Harvard-Westlake falls to Notre Dame in a Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller is guarded by Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller and Nikolas Khamenia of Harvard-Westlake try to gather up a loose ball in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Harvard-Westlakexe2x80x99s Trent Perry tries to get by Notre Dame defenders Bronson Schmidt-Uili and Micah Tannenbaum during their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame’s Bronson Schmidt-Uili and Nikolas Khamenia of Harvard-Westlake battle for a rebound during their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller is guarded by Christian Horry of Harvard-Westlake Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller gets around Trent Perry during their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Dame fans cheer on their team as they pull ahead of Harvard-Westlake in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller reacts after knocking down a three point basket against Harvard-Westlake in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Notre Damexe2x80x99s Mercy Miller reacts after knocking down a three point basket against Harvard-Westlake in their Mission League basketball game Jan. 17, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

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STUDIO CITY — The Notre Dame boys basketball team is used to taking its opponent’s best shot early.

For all 20 of the team’s games so far this season, the opposition has come out with a surplus of energy and an overflowing amount of enthusiasm, trying its best to knock Notre Dame off its rhythm.

But the Knights know how to withstand their opponent’s best effort.

It was no different Wednesday night against Mission League rival Harvard-Westlake, which came out with that same vigor Notre Dame had seen all season.

The Wolverines started hot, hitting their first four 3-pointers and taking an 11-point lead. The Knights didn’t falter.

Notre Dame withstood the early 3-point barrage, and led by Mercy Miller’s 29 points and 11 rebounds, defeated Harvard-Westlake 59-54 to remain undefeated (21-0 overall, 4-0 in Mission League).

“We’ve been talking all year that when we play teams typically we’re their Super Bowl, so we’re always going to get the best four minutes,” Notre Dame head coach Matt Sargeant said. “This whole season, everyone we play we get the best four minutes so this was no different. They are a great team, better than any team we’ve played so far, but it was the same thing, we’re used to it. Weather the storm and just keep doing what we do.”

Miller was nearly unguardable, hitting shots that were well-defended and he effortlessly maneuvered his way through double teams.

When the defense collapsed, he stayed in control and got the ball into his teammates’ hands.

If given just an inch of room, he would elevate for a 3-pointer, five of which he made.

“I think this is definitely a statement game for our team just to show how good we are as a team and what we’re all about,” Miller said. “We go in the gym and work hard every day so it’s definitely good to go out there and improve against one of the top teams in the country.”

Aiding Miller offensively in the first half was sophomore Caleb Ogbu, who was the only other Notre Dame player to score in double figures with 11 points. He had nine in the first half, including two made 3-pointers, and sealed the win with two made free throws down the stretch.

It was a big confidence boost for Ogbu and the team, getting a solid contribution from a young player who has struggled at times this year.

“He’s had an up and down year. To be a sophomore and to weather that storm and show up in a game like this, he has a bright future,” Sergeant said. “That was an incredible performance.”

“For him being a sophomore coming in and taking on that role to help us get this win tonight, that was big,” Miller said.

Trent Perry led the Wolverines in scoring with 22 points, 14 of which came in the first half.

Perry started off the night hitting two 3-pointers, crashing the glass and finding his teammates to give Harvard-Westlake the early advantage.

But Miller and the Knights honed in on Perry and held him scoreless in the third quarter, allowing the Knights to gradually seize control of the game.

“That’s my mentality every time I’m on the court,” Miller said about guarding the opposing team’s best player. “Me and Trent grew up together, I’ve known him for a long time. Definitely taking that edge to that next level when you’re playing somebody you grew up with.”

Christian Horry finished second in scoring for the Wolverines with 12 points on four made 3-pointers. Robert Hinton added nine points and four rebounds.

Lino Mark, Zach White and Bronson Schmidt-Uili finished with six points apiece for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame will face Chaminade Friday in its next league matchup. Harvard-Westlake will have another difficult test Friday, playing Sierra Canyon on the road.

While the Knights will enjoy this win, the celebration won’t last long. They know they can very well face this team again in the Mission League tournament, and maybe even in the CIF Open Division playoffs.

“We know we’ll see Harvard-Westlake again down the road so we’ll take this win,” Miller said. “They beat us two times last year, so we’ll take this one and get back for next time.”

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