If there is a theory at The City of Palms that says what one Ball brother can do, the next can do just as well, then Tuesday was another example of just that.
Needing a punch before halftime, Chino Hills (California) junior LiAngelo Ball took the ball with two seconds left on the clock, stepped back from the left foul line extended and nailed a fall-away 3-pointer from 30 feet to put the Huskies up 23.
Exactly eight minutes later, with the clock winding down to zero, senior Lonzo Ball did just the same, dribbling away from a defender before stepping back for a buzzer-beating 3 … only this time he did it from 35 feet.
It gave the Huskies a 27-point lead this time and led to a 94-82 victory over High Point Christian (North Carolina) at Bishop Verot High.
Now Chino Hills (8-0) finds itself in the City of Palms Classic final on Wednesday at 9 p.m., where it will face Elizabeth Patrick School (New Jersey), which beat St. Louis Chaminade (Missouri) 52-49 at the buzzer in the other semifinal.
It could become the first California team to win the tournament title since Santa Ana Mater Dei did it in 2008, and the eighth team from the state overall.
“We’re not satisfied with what we’ve accomplished so far,” Chino Hills head coach Steve Baik said. “We know our best basketball is ahead of us. So we’re just trying to get better and play our best game.”
Yet through three straight games, the Huskies have been the best of the City of Palms field. They’ve scored over 90 points twice, and at one point Tuesday challenged a tournament record for highest margin of victory until the Cougars began to chip away late.
LiAngelo Ball had a huge night, scoring a game- and season-high 40 points on 13 of 27 shooting. He hit five 3-pointers, had three steals and pocketed three assists.
His brother, Lonzo, converted on his first triple-double of the tournament, going for 14 points, 10 assists, 13 rebounds and three steals. LaMelo Ball had 18 points and went 4 of 8 from behind the arc and Elizjah Scott added 12 points and six rebounds.
The Huskies nailed 11 3-pointers in total and shot a combined 47 percent from the field, negating a very big night from 6-foot-9 Kentucky signee Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, who finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
“I just knew I had to come out hard and supply for the team,” LiAngelo said. “It’s a team game. I knew if I gave my part, I knew we would be all right.”
While the Cougars made a big run in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Huskies by 15 in the final frame, it was a little too late. Chino Hills’ lead grew to as much as 28 in the fourth with four minutes remaining before High Point began to chip away.