ONTARIO -- The fans came to see Los Angeles Price's Skylar Spencer and Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede. And while the one-on-one matchup between two of the Southland's premier post players had its moments, there was more at stake than individual bragging rights in this one.
"I was looking forward to going up against Daddy, he always comes to play, it's always a challenge,'' Spencer said.
In the end, Spencer got the better of the exchange as the Knights jumped out to a nine-point lead in the first half and maintained a double-digit advantage for most of the second half en route to a 73-66 Division IV victory in a Southern California Regional title game at Colony High.
Behind 15 points from the San Diego State-bound Spencer, third-seed Price (26-8) advances to next weekend's CIF state title game in Sacramento.
"I'm just glad Spencer is on our side, I'd take him over any other player in Southern California,'' Price coach Michael Lynch said.
Top-seeded Serra (31-3), on the other hand, is left to think about what could've been after Ugbede, a senior with scholarship offers, finished with 18 points.
With the focus on Ugbede underneath the basket, things opened up for teammate Dakari Tucker. In the second quarter alone, the senior scored six points and added three rebounds, two assists and two steals. It was more of the same in the second half. Tucker scored another nine points in the third quarter. Serra still trailed, 56-51, to start the fourth quarter.
Spencer scored five points in the opening minutes of the game. However, he got into foul trouble and ended up back on the bench midway through the first quarter. Making matters worse, Spencer did not play at all in the second quarter.
With Spencer on the sideline, Khalil Johnson was able to pick up the scoring slack. The senior scored 17 points and added seven rebounds in the first half. His efforts helped the Knights take an all-important 39-30 lead at the halftime break.
Ugbede got off to a good start. He scored eight points in the first eight minutes of play. Nevertheless, the Cavaliers were down, 16-10, to start the second quarter. Similar to Spencer, Ugbede got into foul trouble and spent some time on the bench.
Johnson finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Tucker ended up with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.