NORTH NATOMAS — De La Salle played the slow-down game with Chino Hills in the first half of the CIF Boys’ Open Division state championships on March 26. The strategy didn’t work in the second half.
On the shoulders of three high-scoring brothers, Chino Hills kept its undefeated season in intact and claimed the Open Division state title by knocking out De La Salle 70-50.
LiAngelo Ball had 18 points, seven rebounds, and two assists, Lonzo Ball added 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals and LeMelo Ball chipped in 14 points and five assists for the Chino Hills Huskies (34-0).
Elizah Scott added another 16 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies, who won their first state title. The Spartans are a well-disciplined team and they showed by knocking out Sacramento High School and Modesto Christian for the NorCal title. To beat Chino Hills was a more than a tall order.
“De La Salle were the underdogs and had nothing to lose,” Lonzo Ball said. “At the end of the day, you know, we just overwhelmed them.”
Jordan Ratinho had 16 points and seven rebounds and Emeka Udenyi had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the De La Salle Spartans (31-3).
As expected, DeLa Salle slowed the game down. The Spartans finished with a 20-14 lead in the first quarter. The Huskies responded with an 8-0 run to take a brief 23-20 lead early in the second quarter, but De La Salle ended the first half with a 30-28 margin.
The Ball Brothers, averaging 66 points per game as a unit, combined for 14 points in the first half while Ratinho and Udenyi unified for 20 points for De La Salle.
In the third quarter, the family trio for Chino Hills got it going with a 13-2 run that included two steals and two breakaway dunks by Lonzo Ball. The Huskies outscored De La Salle 19-5 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter it was more of the same and the Spartans proved that they didn’t have a running game let alone an answer for the high-powered offense of Chino Hills.
The Ball brothers and Scott turned Sleep Train Arena into a circus-like atmosphere in front of 7, 501 spectators with flaring dunks, aggressive blocks, and eye-popping assists.
“I thought they did what they were able to do during the course of the year and they did it a little longer than we did,” De La Salle head coach A.J. Kuhle said of Chino Hills. “Those guys have great length, they’re high-level players, and it made a difference.”
ELK GROVE GIRLS FALL TO CAJON IN STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Cajon prevented Elk Grove from scoring a field goal in the fourth quarter and won the game 55-36 to claim the
CIF Girls’ Division II state title.
The Thundering Herd trailed Cajon 9-8 until getting on a 12-2 run to lead 20-11 halfway through the second quarter. The Cowboys charged back with a 10-0 run of their own to lead 21-20 at the half.
The Cowboys were behind 32-31 at the end of three quarters, but took over the controls by scoring 17 unanswered points. Mostly on layups and free throws. Cajon outscored Elk Grove 24-4 in fourth quarter.
The Thundering Herd shooting went completely ice cold and Elk Grove did not score a basket until Shulman made two free throws with 1:34 left to play.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The Associated Press contributed to this report