It was a wild Friday night of high school basketball in Southern California.
Unbeaten Torrance Bishop Montgomery had its 29-game winning streak come to an end, losing to La Verne Lutheran, 63-59, in a Southern Section Division 4AA semifinal.
McDonald’s All American Isaac Hamilton scored 43 points to help Bellflower St. John Bosco hold off Huntington Beach Ocean View, 89-87, in a 3A semifinal.
And, in the strongest division in Southern California, No. 2-seeded Long Beach Poly needed clutch free throws from Roschon Prince in the final 30 seconds to hold off Los Angeles Loyola, 75-69, in a 1AA quarterfinal.
The 1AA semifinals are set for Tuesday night: Santa Ana Mater Dei vs. Inglewood and Poly vs. Etiwanda.
Prince finished with 27 points and Jordan Bell had 18 for Poly (27-2). Trey Mason scored 19 points and Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 16 for Loyola (22-7).
Poly Coach Sharrief Metoyer is adamant that his team is the best in Southern California, with the Jackrabbits’ only two losses coming to national powers Florida Montverde Academy and Chicago Whitney Young.
“Our kids played tough and made the free throws at the end,” Metoyer said.
For three quarters Friday, the Jackrabbits displayed all the qualities of being the best. The 6-foot-7 Bell had five dunks and controlled the inside. The USC-bound Prince was physical inside. Each time Loyola tried to make a run, the Jackrabbits responded.
Poly’s aggressive man-to-man defense produced turnovers in bunches, helping the Jackrabbits open a 26-11 lead with a 12-0 run at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, Poly led, 47-33.
Kameron Murrell, playing with a special mask to protect a cheekbone injury, came off the bench to contribute three baskets. The Jackrabbits kept making the Cubs pay for double teams, whether making an open shot or getting an offensive rebound basket.
Loyola finally broke through late in the fourth quarter, closing to 70-67 with 28 seconds left. But the Jackrabbits made their free throws and got out with a tough road victory.
“It took a lot of weight off us,” Bell said.