Bishop Montgomery 22-0 after State Preview test

NORWALK – The tenth State Preview Saturday – now under the guidance of Rolling Hills Prep since Coach Harvey Kitani moved there from Fairfax High – gave a decent not-so-sneaky preview of some of the programs likely to make deep runs into the 2018 California State Championship Tournament.

The most notable those among the 16 teams on display at Cerritos College was, of course, defending State and Southern Section Open Division Champion Bishop Montgomery.

And nothing occurred during the Knights’ 60-43 takedown of L.A. City power Fairfax to even mildly begin to offer any doubt that Coach Doug Mitchell’s club is an iron-clad favorite to successful defend both of those crowns in March.

Even minus one of their best players (junior guard Gianni Hunt, who couldn’t suit up for the game or even being in attendance Saturday after being ejected by officials from the Knights’ Del Rey League game with Serra Friday night), the Knights executed too well on offense and their man-to-man defense was too stout for the Lions to offer much in the way of substantial challenge.

Fairfax (15-7) also lost one of its best players when junior forward Robert McRae suffered an injured right ankle late in the first half and spent the rest of the game with his leg propped and ankle wrapped in ice.

The injury was not only a severe blow to the Lions Saturday night but could also be problematic Wednesday night if he isn’t cleared to play when they play host to Western League rival Westchester.

The only Lion the Knights’ defense never got a handle on was the Ethan Anderson, the junior guard who is built like a strong safety. He scored 24 points with 16 of those coming in the second half and preventing his team’s deficit from reaching 20-plus even in the third quarter.

Anderson – who knocked in four of his shots from behind the arc – was nine of 15 from the field while his teammates were missing a combined 27 of 35 attempts.

As is nearly inevitable for the Knights via their firm screening, crisp player and ball movement and willingness to pass up seemingly “open” shot attempts for even higher percentage opportunities deep into the shot clock, “balance” was the key word to describe Bishop Montgomery’s offensive production.

The Knights had six players who scored from six to 16 points, led by UCLA-bound David Singleton, while Boston University-bound forward Fletcher Tynen added 10 points and five rebounds.

Mitchell’s junior class – even minus Hunt – combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds by way of Josh Vazquez, Nick Schrader, Will Crawford and Oscar Lopez.

The sixth (Corona Centennial vs. Oak Park) and final (Chino Hills vs. Santa Monica) games Saturday also involved teams that are in the hunt for some of the eight spots available for the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division bracket.

And, after holding leads in double figures much of the third quarter, Oak Park needed a four-minute overtime – and the continued impressive play of University of Utah-bound forward Riley Battin (PICTURED) – to knock off the Huskies, 57-54.

A sizzling second-half performance by sophomore guard Paris Dawson (he scored all 22 of his points after intermission) rallied Centennial to the cusp of victory in regulation.

The Eagles (16-6) started tossing the ball all over the building in the second half, committing 15 turnovers, and the Huskies (14-9) seemingly took advantage just about every one of them.

Dawson gave Centennial its first advantage, at 50-49, on an “And 1” with 1:49 to go in regulation.

But Battin (who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) knocked in a couple of free throws to put his team back up 30 seconds later.

Another sophomore, D.J. Davis, dropped in two free throws to push the advantage back to the Huskies with 50.7 tics on the clock . . . before That Man Battin split a double-team in the lane, was fouled, and converted two more freebies to put Oak Park back up, 53-52, with 38 seconds to go in regulation.

After a Centennial timeout, yet another Huskies’ 10th grader, Jaylen Clark, converted two free throws and his team was up by a point with 25.6 showing on the clock.

Battin tried to answer in the lane but his attempt was off but the ball was ruled to have been knocked out of bounds by Clark with 6.9 seconds remaining.

Crazy game, eh?

But it wasn’t close to being decided yet . . .

Battin received the inbound baseline pass from Josh Jeong and was hacked on the arm by Dawson with 4.8 tics to go, sending Battin back to the free-throw for the potential tying and go-ahead points.

He got the first part accomplished but – following the Huskies’ final timeout – his second attempt rimmed off and the Huskies secured the rebound but Clark’s launch from about 45 feet at the buzzer wasn’t close to iron.

Things were nearly as chaotic in overtime.

Oak Park controlled the center jump to start OT and the teams exchanged turnovers before Battin scored from the left side of the lane with 2:29 remaining.

There was only one more point score – on a free throw by Battin with 1.7 seconds to go – but no shortage of opportunities for Centennial to re-gain the lead.

The best of those came when another member of the Class of 2020 for Centennial Coach Josh Giles – forward Dennis Cash – couldn’t convert on a short drive, with the ball awarded out of bounds to Oak Park with 3.7 seconds to play.

Battin was fouled after receiving the inbound pass two seconds later and his second miss meant that Dawson’s 55-foot heave after grabbing the rebound would have pulled out the unlikeliest of victories for he and his teammates.

The Santa Monica Vikings (12-10) aren’t in the hunt for a spot in the Southern Section’s Open Division playoff field.

But they hung tough with a team – Chino Hills – that is before the Huskies outscored them by 16 points in the final quarter for a 75-56 victory.

Junior post Onyeka Okongwu overwhelmed the Vikings at both ends of the floor Saturday night.

And that’s pretty much been his MO all season.

He finished with 33 points (16 of 22 from the floor and one of two on free throws) to go with 15 rebounds, eight blocked shots, three steals and two assists.

But the Huskies (14-8) also got strong performances from senior guard Ofure Ujadughele (19 points and 15 rebounds) and junior forward Nick Manor Hall (nine points and seven rebounds).

Rice University-bound guard Payton Moore scored 16 points for Santa Monica.

In the other five games played Saturday:

  *Mt. Pleasant (UT) Wasatch Academy 76, Woodland Hills Taft 61: The prep school program from Utah improved to 19-2, as Cal-bound Matt Bradley (formerly of San Bernardino High) scored 22 points, with eight rebounds and six assists while juniors Marvin Williams III (21) and Tyrese Samuel (17) combined for 38 points.

All-L.A. City point guard Kihei Clark, who signed with the University of Virginia in November, scored a game-high 29 points for the Toreadors (20-7).

  *Rolling Hills Prep 44, Loyola 33: In a “sluggish” (aka: “low-scoring”) affair, senior Alex Garcia scored 11 points and junior Chris Koon added 10 as the Huskies improved to 14-6 in the wire-to-wire win.

The Cubs (12-8) were playing without their best player, junior forward James Keefe, because of hip injury. Sophomore forward Colby Brooks led them with eight points.

*Las Vegas Durango 72, Maranatha 56: Junior forward Nick Blake scored 25 points as the Trailblazers never trailed and headed back up the I-15 with a 7-9 record.

Fordham-bound Chris Austin scored 24 points for the Minutemen.

  *Brentwood 65, Heritage Christian 46: Sam Clareman scored 31 points and fellow junior Braelee Albert added 12 points and 12 rebounds as the Eagles improved to 17-5.

The wiry Clareman (he might carry a buck fifty over his 6-3 frame) hit six 3s.

Junior Noel Fernando scored 17 points while freshman Justin Rochelin (whose father played at UCLA) added 16 for the Warriors (11-12).

  *Crean Lutheran 63, Long Beach Jordan 54: Sophomore forward Isaiah Johnson scored 23 points and junior guard Maximu Bo added 17 (including five 3s) for the Saints while senior guard DeShon Rice led the Panthers with 14.

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