ANAHEIM, Calif. — The stage was set for the game of the year in California high school basketball.
Undefeated and top-ranked team in the country Chino Hills against fellow nationally-ranked - and California’s No. 2 - Sierra Canyon in the CIF-SS Open Division championship game.
The game of the year quickly turned into the Chino Hills high school boys basketball show and it took all of about four minutes for the game to be decided.
The Huskies completed a wire-to-wire domination of Sierra Canyon, 105-83, earning the schools first Southern Section Open Division crown, led by another triple-double from Lonzo Ball who finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.
Chino Hills (31-0) has defeated every team in its path, obviously, and Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols, whose team has also played a national schedule this season, was certain the Trailblazers lost to the best team in America.
“We knew going into the game we were playing the number one team in the country,” he said. “We’ve seen (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Oak Hill, (Florida) Montverde, (St.Louis) Chaminade and the team out of Utah (Lone Peak) and there’s no question in my mind that that’s the number one team in the country.”
Nichols offered high praise for the best player on the best team in the country, too, in Lonzo Ball.
“That’s what pros look like when they’re 18, 19 years old,” he said. “He performed.”
‘Zo Ball wasn’t the only one of the trio of brothers to perform, though.
Junior shooting guard LiAngelo Ball scored a game-high 31 points, while freshman guard LaMelo Ball turned in an electrifying 26-point effort on 11 of 17 shooting and 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
Lonzo Ball (left), Melo Ball (center) and LiAngelo Ball combined for 77 points in Chino Hills CIF-SS Open Division championship win over Sierra Canyon.
The Huskies opened the first two minutes with a quick 9-0 run, prompting Sierra Canyon (26-4) to burn an early timeout.
But any adjustments the Trailblazers drew up during that break couldn’t slow the onslaught.
Chino Hills' lead grew to 20-4 after a steal and 3-pointer from Lonzo at the 4:08 mark of the quarter and closed the first eight minutes with a 26-8 lead.
“If our desire to win is greater than the opposing teams’, we’re going to win state,” Huskies coach Steve Baik said. “These guys want to win every game; they’re just competitors.”
The Huskies showed that competitive fire by not letting up over the final 24 minutes.
Elizjah Scott’s soaring, one-handed dunk from a couple steps inside the free throw line had the crowd buzzing and gave Chino Hills a 58-32 advantage at the 5:14 mark of the third quarter.
Then in the fourth quarter, Melo Ball drained a 3-pointer from just about half-court which made it an 82-57 Huskies lead.
Scott finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Freshman center Onyeka Okongwu scored 12 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked five shots in another impressive effort for the 2019 prospect.
Remy Martin paced Sierra Canyon with 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Devearl Ramsey added 15 points, while Adam Seiko and Cody Riley both finished in double-figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Chino Hills and Sierra Canyon both advance to the CIF State Open Division playoffs and will likely be seeded No. 1 and No. 2, setting up a potential rematch in the State Southern Regional Finals March 19 at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State.
Chino Hills Ayala 63, Huntington Beach Edison 49
Ayala’s fusion of size, skill, athleticism and dedication to the defensive end was far too much for Edison to handle.
The Bulldogs (30-3) were led by Cal State Fullerton-signee Austen Awosika and John Edgar, each of whom scored 19 points in the win. Miles President was the third Ayala player to score in double-figures with 13.
Edison (24-8) was able to keep things relatively close though the first two quarters, trailing by 28-21 at the break.
But the wheels fell off in the third quarter for the Chargers when Nate Matthews, who is Edison’s best 3-point shooter and top perimeter defender, picked up his fourth foul early in the period.
Ayala capitalized on the absence of Matthews, outscoring Edison 19-8 in the third to take a commanding 47-29 lead into the fourth.
Matthews led Edison with 16 points. Randall Walker had 11.
Oak Park 68, Bonita 49
La Verne Bonita had no way to combat the size, strength and skill of 6-foot-8 sophomore Riley Battin as he poured in 30 points on 13 of 18 from the field while classmate Wes Slajchert added 18 on 7 of 8 shooting.
The Eagles opened up a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter, led 15-7 after one, and cruised to the 19 point victory.
Joseph Quintana led Bonita (25-6) with 15 points and six rebounds. Russell Hernandez added 12 for the Bearcats.
Oak Park finished the season at 26-6 en route to its Division 3AA championship.
J.W. North 61, Long Beach Poly 58
The three-point difference on the scoreboard was due in large-part to the difference in 3-point shooting between the Huskies and Jackrabbits.
J.W. North went 7 of 14 from behind the arc to Poly’s 2 of 13 with C.J. Clark leading the Huskies in scoring at 20 points on on 7 of 11 shooting, including 4 of 3 from deep.
As stated in the HoopsByUgland.com division-by-division predictions, this game came down to the wire and was quite the nut-cutter.
Poly senior and Hawaii-bound guard Drew Buggs came up short on a potential game-tying 3-pointer as he faded left on a 24-footer in front of his bench.
The Jackrabbits (20-10) never looked quite right offensively, but managed keep a three-point lead late into the third quarter.
North (27-4) closed the third on a 9-1 run on a a free throw from Christian Gray, one of Clark’s 3s, a triple from UC Riverside-signee DK Martin and a layup from Deshaun Highler to take a 47-43 lead into the fourth.
The Huskies opened an eight point lead after a two free throws from Martin made it a tally of 55-47, but Poly’s offense clicked into gear behind sophomore point guard Darryl Polk.
Polk hit a floater, then poked away a steal on North’s very next possession which resulted in a 10-foot leaning bank shot. He hit another floater, got fouled and sank the free throw to cut the Poly deficit to three, 57-54, at the 2:32 mark of the fourth quarter.
A layup from Harrison Bonner made it a one-point game, 57-56, with just 1:47 left.
North answered with a put-back bucket from Cameron Nunley which was matched by Buggs on the other end, making it a 59-58 Huskies lead with 1:03 to play.
Two free throws from Clark with 11 seconds left gave North its eventual winning margin.
Gray finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies. Highler added 13 and Martin had 11.
Poly finished the game 24 of 61 (39.3 percent) from the field and was led by Zafir Williams who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.
Bonner added 16 points for Long Beach Poly on 7 of 10 from the field.
Santa Barbara 75, Lynwood 65
The Dons had five players score in double-figures, helping them to the CIF-SS Division 2A championship.
Ben Clay led Santa Barbara (31-1) with 16 points, John Cage added 15 points and 15 rebounds, Ben Brown finished with 15, Bolden Brace had 14 and Nick Busch chipped in 13 en route to the Dons 10-point victory.
Santa Barbara fell behind Lynwood early as the Knights (23-6) stormed out of the gates to a 9-2 lead behind five points from Joe Tate and four points from Jamal Bogan.
Lynwood extended its lead to 10, 18-8, with 2:18 to go in the first but the Dons answered swiftly and sternly with a 20-0 run which began on a Brace layup at the 2:14 mark of the second and ended on a Cage basket at the 4:51 mark of the second quarter.
By the time the run was over, Santa Barbara had a 28-18 lead and closed the first 16 minutes of play with a 41-30 advantage.
Lynwood was able to cut the deficit to one, 66-65, on a layup from Joe Tate, but Santa Barbara closed out the win at the free throw line.
Freshman Oscar Lopez led all scorers with 17 points. Bogan had 14, Keith Carlton 12 and Tate 11.
Santa Monica 66, Temecula Valley 60
Temecula Valley looked to be in control of things early in the third quarter after two free throws from junior wing Bryce Denham gave the Bears a 37-24 lead over Santa Monica with 6:55 left in the third.
The Vikings stormed back, however, behind the scoring of USC-bound senior shooting guard Jonah Mathews and a plethora of turnovers and quick shots from Temecula Valley.
Santa Monica outscored Temecula Valley, 42-23, over the last 14:55 of the game to take the six-point win.
The Vikings (29-2) went on a 17-6 run which lasted from the 6:55 mark of the third until a basket from Mathews tied the game at 42 with 1:08 to go in the period.
There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter before Mathews’ top of the key 3-pointer with 1:36 left in the fourth gave Santa Monica a 57-55 lead.
An offensive rebound put-back from sophomore Rip Economou and two free throws from Mathews made it a 61-55 SaMo advantage and the Vikings cruised from then to the final buzzer.
Mathews struggled as far as shooting percentage went, connecting on 10 of his 28 field goal attempts, but led all scorers with 33 points.
DeWayne Holmes led Temecula Valley (28-5) with 15 points. Riley Schaefer and Scott Hollingsworth each finished with 12 points.