Championship games help define the legacies of great players, and Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills High created the kind of lasting memory Saturday night that will be hard to forget.
The 6-foot-6 junior guard had 26 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and eight steals as Chino Hills knocked off No. 1-seeded Corona Centennial, 62-51, in the Division I Southern California Regional championship game at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
"I think he's going to play in the NBA for a long time," Centennial Coach Josh Giles said. "I wish he was graduating."
UCLA Coach Steve Alford is pretty happy his team has advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, and he should be equally thrilled that Ball is committed to the Bruins. His versatility was on display from start to finish.
"Zo was playing like he was 7 feet," Coach Steve Baik said of Ball's defensive presence.
Ball's brother, LiAngelo, finished with 21 points. Chino Hills (17-14) held the usually high-scoring Huskies (25-6) to 34 points through three quarters. Centennial had four players foul out, including starters Sedrick Barefield, Kahilil Ahmad and Ike Anigbogu. Jordan Griffin finished with 20 points.
"I knew that the mind-set had to be an aggressive, attacking mentality on defense," Baik said.
Chino Hills advances to the Division I state title game against San Ramon Valley on Friday at 8 p.m. at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
La Mirada (30-5) turned in a tremendous defensive performance, holding Lawndale to 11 points in the second half en route to a 49-40 win.
"Our guys played their butts off defensively," Coach Bryce Jones said.
And no one was better than 6-4 junior Vittorio Reynoso-Avila, who has a 4.5 grade-point average and delivered 14 points and 13 rebounds.
La Mirada received strong performances from its big men, 6-8 Kendall Lauderdale and 6-7 Dezmon Murphy, both of whom outplayed Lawndale's big men, Brodricks Jones and Chimezie Metu. Lauderdale finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Murphy had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
La Mirada, the alma mater of the NBA's
La Verne Damien received 20 points from Bryce Peters and 17 from Jeremy Hemsley to defeat L.A. Cathedral, 68-62. Kobe Paras had 23 points for Cathedral.
Mitch Kykhaylov had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and De'Anthony Melton had 21 points and seven rebounds to lift Encino Crespi over North Hollywood Campbell Hall, 58-54, earning the Celts their first trip to a state final.
Aaron Holiday had 24 points for the Vikings but was only six of 23 from the field. Melton made eight of 10 free throws and Kykhaylov was 10 of 14 from the field.