SANTA ANA -- Freshman phenom Marcus LoVett Jr. did everything he could to propel his Providence Pioneers to the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A title on Saturday at Mater Dei High.
He jumped into the crowd diving for a loose ball late the game. He drove the length of the court, Tyus Edney-style, for layups over and over again. He even stole an inbounds pass with three seconds left in overtime to give his teammate a shot at a tying 3-pointer.
But he couldn't do it all, and LoVett Jr.'s No. 1-seeded Pioneers succumbed in overtime to their league-rival Holy Martyrs, 65-62.
The 5-foot-11 freshman guard, double-teamed all game by the Armens' stifling defense, scored 38 points on 13-of-34 shooting to lead all scorers. But no other Pioneer scored in double-digits, even senior guard Patrick Gonzalez, who had 24 points in last week's semifinal game.
Providence (26-5) had beat third-seeded Holy Martyrs (19-11) twice before this season in Liberty League play and were heavily favored to win Saturday's game, but the Armens kept it close all game and had a chance to win it on the last play of regulation.
"That's the worst part -- we beat them twice," said LoVett Jr., among the top-ranked prospects in the national Class of 2015. "I think we came in a little too cocky or something like that.
"We thought it was just going to be a piece of cake, and it wasn't."
Providence coach Ernest Baskerville said he told his team all week that the Armens would look a little different the third time, and he was right. They didn't double-team Gonzalez, but they made sure he was face-guarded at all times and hardly allowed him to catch the ball. They hadn't done that in the previous matchups.
"It's hard to beat somebody three times," Baskerville said. "Everybody knows that."
Senior guard Nshon Kenjoian had 33 points and 13 rebounds for Holy Martyrs and 6-5 center Vahe Safaryon added 11 points, including nine in the first half. The Armens, from Encino, made two key sets of free throws in the overtime that helped seal the school's first-ever basketball title.
"It was our day, I guess," Armens coach Koko Kaprielian said.