NORWALK, Calif. — When the ball went up at center court signaling the start of the game of the year in California high school basketball, there were unconfirmed reports of nearly 1,000 people still lined up outside Cerritos College to get a glimpse of Chino Hills, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, take on Bishop Montgomery, widely considered the second best team in California behind the Huskies.
Those left in the dark - both literally and figuratively - missed out on one heck of a high school basketball game.
Chino Hills battled through an epically poor shooting performance to defeat Bishop Montgomery, 71-67, in front of a “standing room only” crowd at the Fairfax State Preview inside the Cerritos College gymnasium.
Bishop Montgomery (21-1) punched Chino Hills (22-0) from the outset as Ethan Thompson - one of the best juniors in the state - scored the first six points of the game.
Thompson, along with teammates Jordan Schakel and David Singleton, kept things rolling on through the first period as Singleton tracked down a loose ball and hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, tying the score at 22 heading to the second quarter.
Thompson threw the crowd into a frenzy with an authoritative two-handed dunk over Chino Hills’ Elizjah Scott to give the Knights a 31-29 lead midway through the second.
Minutes later, 6-foot-9 Chino Hills freshman center Onyeka Okongwu answered with a two-handed flush of his own, giving the Huskies 37-33 lead with 3:04 left in the first half.
Montgomery closed the half on a 6-0 run to take a 39-37 lead into the break.
The Knights came out quickly again in the third, extending their lead to six, 48-42, before Chino Hills stormed back with a 6-0 run capped by another big dunk from Okongwu to tie the score at 48 with 1:28 left in the third.
Bishop Montgomery led 52-50 at the end of three quarters.
The Knights opened the fourth with a 10-2 spurt to take their biggest lead of the game, 60-52, with 6:20 remaining, but Chino Hills, made yet another comeback.
Freshman LaMelo Ball nailed a clutch 3-pointer to cut the lead to five, 60-55, with just over five minutes to play.
Lonzo Ball then found Okongwu for an easy layup off of a high screen-roll action to tie things up at 62 with 4:19 left.
Scott’s offensive rebound put-back gave Chino Hills a 66-64 lead with 1:19 to play and the Huskies were able to fend-off Montgomery from there.
Melo Ball was fouled, up two, with 21.4 seconds left. He made the first, giving Chino Hills a 69-66 lead, but missed the second which was tracked down by Knights forward Fletcher Tynen.
Tynen went the length of the court and had a good look at a layup before Okongwu flew over to swat the shot away.
Freshman center Onyeka Okongwu was a key player for Chino Hills in its win over Bishop Montgomery. Photo Credit: Devin Ugland
Scott secured the rebound and handed it off to Melo who was fouled again.
The youngest ball iced the game at the charity stripe with two free throws.
UCLA-bound Lonzo Ball, the McDonald’s All-American and nation’s top point guard, had one of the worst shooting night’s of his life, making just two of his 21 shot attempts en route to just five points.
Ball added (by my count) 11 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals to his meager point total and made clutch plays down the stretch on both sides of the ball.
Junior shooting guard LiAngelo Ball led Chino Hills with 22 points and Melo added 18.
Scott finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Okongwu had 10 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Singleton led Bishop Montgomery with 22 points. Schakel had 19 and Thompson 17.
If you happened to miss this monumental match-up, you can watch the full replay here.
While the Chino Hills/Bishop Montgomery game was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the game of the day, there were seven others that HoopsByUgland.com was present for:
No. 3 Sierra Canyon 69, Pasadena Maranatha 52
The Trailblazers played without starters’ Remy Martin and Adam Seiko, but the Minutemen were done in the same amount of time as their mascot name.
Devearl Ramsey, a point guard signed with Nevada, led Sierra Canyon with 19 points. Sophomore “wing” Joe Wallace added 18.
Stanford bound F/C Trevor Stanback led Maranatha with 17 points.
No. 13 Fairfax 87, Windward 55
This was a close game into the early parts of the second quarter when Windward took a 21-20 lead on a steal and layup from Christian James, but Fairfax regrouped and the result mirrored what many thought would happen.
Freshman Ethan Anderson had an efficient and impressive 20-point, five rebound performance for Farifax. Loyola Marymount-signee Donald Gipson scored all 14 of his points in the first half. Freshman Robert McRae scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Fax.
Sophomore Payton Moore led Windward with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Junior point guard Jalen Harris added 13.
No. 16 Orange Lutheran 67, Carlsbad Army-Navy Academy 61
The Lancers trailed 21-11 early, but rallied to tie things up at 32 by halftime.
OLu opened up an eight point advantage, 50-42, after three and held off a big fourth quarter rally from Army-Navy to secure the six-point victory.
Junior guard Joe Riley led Orange Lutheran with 17 points. Chris Williams, also a junior, scored 15.
Richard Polanco had 18 points for Army-Navy.
No. 10 Santa Monica 73, Gardena Serra 60
SaMo let Serra hang around through three quarters, leading 48-43 heading into the final quarter before taking over.
USC-bound shooting guard Jonah Mathews finished with 27 points while junior forward Daniel Schreier had 22.
Sophomore Kobe Smith led Serra with 24.
Las Vegas Durango 56, L.A. Loyola 55 (OT)
Zyare Ruffin’s fade-away 17-footer proved to be the winning basket as Loyola’s Henry Welsh had his 3-point attempt rim-out on the other end.
Durango’s Chase Ruiz led all scorers with 19 points. Ruffin added 14.
Josh Lavergne and Rasheed Clark had 11 apiece for Loyola.
Calabasas 62, Brentwood 42
Senior guard Ryan Murphy led a dominant Calabasas effort with 23 points. Jack Roggin added 21.
Dylan Horn led Brentwood with 17.
El Segundo 65, Rolling Hills Prep 44
Jamal Howard scored 13 points and Chase Ali-Watkins added 10 for El Segundo.
Rolling Hills Prep’s Matt Herrera paced all scorers with 19. Austin Moe added 15.