Chino Hills High fans were giving Lonzo Ball the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James NBA treatment Friday night with chants of "M-V-P" after his two free throws with 21.5 seconds left enabled the Huskies to surpass 100 points in a game for the 18th time this season, tying the state record.
Ball scored 36 points, had nine rebounds and gave out seven assists in a 103-71 victory over Reedley Immanuel in an opening game of the Open Division Southern California Regionals.
"We have the national player of the year and he's saying all week, 'Stay humble,' " Coach Steve Baik said of Ball.
The game was played at Chino Hills, which meant hundreds of fans who wanted the opportunity to see the unbeaten Huskies (32-0) didn't get in. The game was sold out soon after 1,300 tickets became available earlier in the week.
"I apologize to all the fans who couldn't get in," Baik said.
But Baik wanted one final opportunity for Ball to play on his home court.
"He's done so much for the community," he said. "I'm so proud of him."
LiAngelo Ball scored 31 points, Eli Scott had 15 points and 16 rebounds, LaMelo Ball scored 14 points and Onyeka Okongwu added 10 rebounds and seven blocks. Sophomore Nate Kendricks made six three-pointers and finished with 20 points for Immanuel (25-6), which put up a good battle for three quarters.
"It was a golden opportunity for us to play the No. 1 team in the country," Kendricks said. "We came in believing we could win."
The UCLA-bound Lonzo Ball said it was a "great feeling" winning his final home game, but added, "We need to win three more games and after that, we can celebrate."
Next up is a Tuesday semifinal rematch with El Cajon Foothills Christian, which knocked off Santa Ana Mater Dei, 50-46. Foothills Christian has played Chino Hills twice, losing 106-86 and 85-83. Its top player, T.J. Leaf, is a UCLA signee like Lonzo Ball.
"It should be fun," Lonzo said. "I can't wait."
The big question is where the game will be played. Ontario Colony is the tentative site with a seating capacity near 2,500. Time Warner Cable is expected to televise the game.
It was a wild opening night in the Open Division. Torrance Bishop Montgomery defeated Westchester, 72-58, in overtime. David Singleton scored 27 points and Ethan Thompson 22.
San Diego Cathedral Catholic defeated Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, 83-80, in overtime. Brandon McCoy scored 23 points for Cathedral Catholic, which will face Bishop Montgomery on Tuesday.
In Open Division girls, West Hills Chaminade defeated Palisades, 79-67, and will face San Marcos Mission Hills, a 49-45 winner over L.A. Windward. Long Beach Poly defeated La Jolla Country Day, 46-39, and will face Fresno Clovis West, which defeated Sierra Canyon, 82-55.