In one of the most highly-anticipated games in recent SoCal lore, FAB 50 No. 1 Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) downed No. 7 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 71-67 in the marquee game of the Fairfax State Preview Classic at Cerritos College. In front of a standing-room only crowd and with thousands more watching the BIL livestream, the game actually lived up to its hype. Missed parts of the game or haven’t seen the showdown? Watch the FULL STREAM right here!
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Something had to give in this game, as Chino Hills came in averaging over 100 points per game, with Bishop Montgomery giving up less than 47 points per game. Bishop Montgomery (21-1) executed its game plan, limiting the RUN GMZ scoring outbursts, getting back on defense in transition, and defending the 3-point line well, but Chino Hills (22-0) still found a way to pull out the gut-check four-point victory before an overflow crowd in the most anticipated regular season high school basketball game played in the region since Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) played a James Harden-led Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.) team at Chapman College in during the 2006-07 season. It was the most highly-anticipated regular season event at Cerritos College since O.J. Mayo and his North College Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio) team played a two-game set at the Rise or Fall Invitational in December 2005.
Bishop Montgomery led 39-37 at halftime and looked like it might be on its way to victory when sophomore guard David Singleton (22 points) made a field goal to give the Knights a 60-52 lead with 6:23 remaining. Chino Hills quickly answered with a 3-pointer by freshman Li’Melo Ball (18 points) to stay within range.
The play of Chino Hills’ two 14-year old freshmen turned out to be the story of the game, as Melo Ball made clutch plays and 6-foot-9 center Onyeka Okongwu made an impact defensively and scored timely buckets. The freshman big man had two key field goals, including a basket with 1:02 remaining in the game. He also partially blocked a driving lay-up attempt by Bishop Montgomery with under 20 seconds remaining and Chino Hills leading 69-66. Melo Ball hit three of four free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Okongwu’s 10 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks were huge in a game in which Mr. Basketball USA candidate Lonzo Ball struggled from the field. He finished with five points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — but his team still found a way to win.
For Montgomery, Ethan Thompson did a good job defensively on Zo Ball and added 17 points, while fellow junior Jordan Schakel had 19 points.
Li’Angelo Ball led Chino Hills in the scoring department with 22 points and added nine rebounds and five assists. Forward Eli Scott also picked up the slack with 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.
For more analysis of this game and what might be in store the rest of the regular season, check out this story from CalHiSports.com.