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Who would win? Chino Hills’ Ball brothers team vs. 2022 Corona Centennial

Corona Centennial's Jared McCain (24) celebrates winning the Southern California Open Division regional championship
Corona Centennial’s Jared McCain (24) celebrates winning the Southern California Open Division regional championship Tuesday.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
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Corona Centennial High’s rise to prominence in boys’ basketball this season has started a debate. The Huskies have been so impressive that the feeling is they are the best team in Southern California since Chino Hills’ 35-0 team in 2016 that was led by the three Ball brothers.

It raises an interesting question: How would Centennial (32-1) do playing against that unbeaten Chino Hills team?

Two people to ask are Steve Baik, the head coach of Chino Hills, and Mike LeDuc, the coach at LaVerne Damien whose Division I state championship team played Centennial this season and was also in the same league with Chino Hills in 2016.

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Baik, who helped coached a prep school team this season, said, “I think they’re two totally different teams in different eras. They need to be celebrated for their accomplishment this year. Our run was special in our own way.”

Chino Hills’ talent alone puts it in a different category since two of the Ball brothers and center Onyeka Okongwu are playing in the NBA. But Baik raves about the job done by Centennial coach Josh Giles and the way the Huskies play as a team.

“It’s fun for the fans to debate and it’s great for public schools and great for high school basketball and great for the Inland Empire,” he said. “Josh is the premier coach in the state of California. I couldn’t be happier for him and high school basketball.”

The Spartans beat Clovis North to win Division I and avoid a Northern California sweep of Friday games as Damien coach Mike LeDuc earns a state title.

March 11, 2022

LeDuc coached Giles during his days at Glendora and said Centennial’s talent level is impressive.

“When you mix the combination of Josh coaching them, who’s an incredible competitor and great motivator, along with having ridiculous talent, as good a talented team as California has had since the Ball brothers were together at Chino Hills, you’re going to have a spectacular season,” LeDuc said.

As for who would win a game between Chino Hills 2016 and Centennial 2022, LeDuc said, “That’s anybody’s guess. I unfortunately had the opportunity to play against both of those teams. I think this particular team could definitely compete against that team. They’re both great teams and it would be a great game I’d pay to go watch.”

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LeDuc’s moment: After 42 years and more than 1,000 career coaching victories, LeDuc finally won his first state championship on Saturday night with a 65-57 win over Clovis North.

It was interesting how LeDuc wanted the focus on his players, but the players wanted to win for their coach.

It’s endearing when a veteran coach receives such adulation from his youthful players. It means his old-school beliefs and strategies can still resonate in a time of ever-changing ideas and philosophies.

Venice strong: No player probably earned more respect this weekend than sophomore Tyler Hunt of Venice. That’s because few had seen him and he made a big impression in the Division III final with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance in a loss to Chico Pleasant Valley.

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