Alameda fans were fired up after waving their three yellow signs directed at Shareef O’Neal early in Friday’s CIF state Division II championship basketball game against Santa Monica Crossroads. O’Neal missed consecutive free throws, as if he were just like father Shaquille at the line.
“Shoot like Shaq” was the jeer later in the game.
O’Neal thrives on crowds trying to distract him.
“That’s my favorite part of high school basketball,” he said.
O’Neal proceeded to pour it on, as in 29 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks and eight of eight free throws in the fourth quarter to help Crossroads win its first state title since 1997 with a 59-53 victory over Alameda at Golden 1 Center.
“We knew we were going to have butterflies, missed shots,” first-year coach Anthony Davis said. “These guys found a rhythm. We knew our defense would lead us.”
O’Neal’s ability to intimidate helped Crossroads (25-9) open a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, then hold off Alameda (28-6). Crossroads made 19 of 27 free throws. Alameda was just 13 of 28 from the line and four of 20 from the three-point line.
“A good thing about us is we always get calm when the game gets close,” said the 6-foot-10 O’Neal, who’s headed to UCLA.
O’Neal received plenty of help from point guard D.J. Houston, who had 15 points and seven rebounds.
Chino Hills wins
There’s been no stopping Chino Hills in the postseason. The Huskies went 10-0 in playoff games and won the state Division I championship with a 73-68 victory over Walnut Creek Las Lomas.
In winning the Southern Section Division I championship, the Southern California Regional Division I title and Division I state title, the Huskies (26-11) continued to rely on 6-9 junior Onyeka Okongwu, who finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But Okongwu fouled out with 3:50 left, requiring his teammates to come through. Ofure Ujadughele scored 20 points and Andre Ball 27.
Chino Hills opened a 22-point lead in the second quarter, held a 44-29 advantage at halftime and held on. Robert Prince scored 24 points for Las Lomas. The Huskies finished a night in which Southern California teams won five of the six games against their Northern California counterparts.
Freshman leads View Park Prep
There’s no way to explain the extraordinary sight of a high school freshman making shooting the ball at an NBA arena so simple other than practice makes perfect. That’s the explanation by Christian Johnson of View Park Prep (27-8) after what he accomplished in leading his team to a 74-62 win over San Francisco Stuart Hall in the Division IV final.
“When you play as much as I do, it gets easier,” said the 5-10 point guard.
Johnson, 16, scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half.
View Park, an at-large team, became the first City Section team to win a state title since Westchester in 2010. Johnson, nicknamed Bam Bam after the character from the “Flintstones,” grew up learning from older sister Briana, who became a standout at Gardena Serra and Long Beach Poly, and plays for Denver. She won a state title her junior year at Serra.
“When I was young, she was faster than me,” Johnson said.
Little brother made eight of 14 shots, had six rebounds and four assists.