Big second half helps Chino Hills rally to Open Division state title

Eric Sondheimer
Contact ReporterVarsity Times Insider

It was halftime Saturday night in the CIF Open Division state championship boys' basketball game. Unbeaten Chino Hills trailed Concord De La Salle by two points. Lonzo Ball, the national player of the year, sat in a chair looking out onto the court at Sleep Train Arena with a steely gaze on his face that offered a hint of what was to come.

Chino Hills turned up the defensive pressure, went into attack mode and put on a show in the third quarter. The Huskies went on a 15-2 run that featured consecutive dunks by the 6-foot-6 Ball. By quarter's end, there were blocked shots by Onyeka Okongwu, a three-pointer by LaMelo Ball, a three-pointer by LiAngelo Ball. And Lonzo Ball was involved in seemingly everything — rebounding, assisting, leading and coaching.

By game's end, Chino Hills was celebrating perfection after a 70-50 victory gave the Huskies a 35-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the nation. The crowd of about 5,000 was treated to a dunkathon in the fourth quarter.

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"I'm happy," Lonzo Ball said. "It took four years to get here. We got it."

Ball brought his teammates together at halftime to give them a talk.

"I told them I know what it's like to lose," he said, referring to the last time the Huskies lost, a double overtime game in last year's Division I state final. "We're 10 times better than them. Settle in."

Ball finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. LiAngelo Ball had 18 points, Eli Scott 16 and LaMelo Ball 15.

"He just knew we weren't playing our game and got into them a little in the locker room," Coach Steve Baik said. "We trust that guy. He's proven it over and over where he can win the game for us and we knew it was going to be our night."

De La Salle (31-3) executed its game plan to perfection in the first half by spreading out on the court with two guards up front against the Chino Hills trapping zone defense. The Spartans would get the ball in the middle and attack. Jordan Ratinho had 11 points in helping the Spartans open a 19-9 lead in the first quarter and lead, 30-28, at halftime. He finished with 16 points.

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @LATSondheimer

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 27, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Big second half reels in state title for Chino Hills - Lonzo Ball is at the center of unbeaten Huskies' rally in the Open Division final. - CHINO HILLS 70 DE LA SALLE 50" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe