Video: Chino Hills beats Las LomasWatch the trio of Okongwu, Ujadughele and Ball combined for 64 points in Chino Hills triumph.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
The Chino Hills (Calif.)
reconstruction is complete.
The Huskies, with a first-year coach, a new system, and no Ball brothers on the roster, won their second state championship in three years, this a CIF Division 1 title following a 73-68 over Las Lomas (Walnut Creek)
at the Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings.
More than 2,000 maroon-and-gold clad fans came to cheer on Las Lomas (31-4), but Chino Hills had just too much 6-foot-9 post Onyeka Okongwu
(27 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks).
Las Lomas, without a player taller than 6-4 in its rotation, dug a hole it simply couldn't quite get out, though they tried, making a game of it in the final five minutes.
When Okongwu, rated the No. 17 junior in the country by 247Sports, fouled out in the final three minutes, the loud Las Lomas faithful got louder.
But Chino Hills, tested mightily with a rugged Southern California schedule, relied on super 6-2 guard Ofure Ujadughele
(20 points, eight rebounds) and 6-5 forward Andre Ball
(17 points), the cousin of the Ball brothers which won a mythical national crown two seasons ago and went 35-0.
First-year coach Dennis Latimore, blamed by LaVar Ball as the reason he took his son LaMelo Ball out of school and the country last fall, was more than legitimized by leading the Huskies to a late-season flurry. They won their last 11 games.
He had no desire to address Ball or detractors. As he said earlier in the week, "it's all about the kids."
On Saturday, his Huskies were sensational, especially early when they took a 23-9 lead after one quarter and stretched the lead to 22 by the second quarter.
"We were talking on the bench early, thinking we might be able to just sit back and smile," Latimore said. "It turned out to be pretty stressful."
That's because the Knights closed to within five points a couple of time sin the fourth quarter behind Robert Prince
(24 points), Nathan Robinson
(18) and J.T. Estes
Chino Hills didn't make a single three-pointer, going 0-for-4, but Las Lomas was a paltry 5-for-27 from beyond the arc. The Huskies made 55 percent of its shots (28-of-51), while Las Lomas was 23-for-63.
"The guys just united," Latimore said. "And it's more than just one individual."
Though against the much shorter Knights, Okongwu was absolutely dominating.
"We just did what we had to do," Okongwu said.
Asked what this championship felt like compared to 2016, Okongwu said "It's indescribable."
And what did the win mean to Latimore?
"It means a much shorter bus ride home," he said.