It’s a whole new Ball game for Chino Hills, but also more of the same as unbeaten Huskies roll over Damien
Huskies roll to 119-84 victory
The fan madness that followed the Chino Hills basketball team last season during a 35-0 run is back. More than three hours before the Huskies’ home opener Tuesday night, people were lining up with folding chairs to wait for tickets to be sold for a Baseline League opener against 15-1 La Verne Damien.
The gym seats 1,300, and it was filled to capacity. A camera crew followed around Chino Hills players. LaVar Ball, father of the Ball brothers, sat in the front row beaming and holding court.
By game’s end, after Chino Hills came away with a 119-84 victory to improve to 17-0 and win its 52nd consecutive game, it was clear this show is picking up steam with no sign it’s going to end any time soon.
LaMelo Ball, Chino Hills’ 15-year-old sophomore guard who has grown five inches since last season, scored 33 points, making five threes and demonstrating a new skill in being able to aggressively drive to the basket and score in traffic with his improving strength.
“It’s my dad,” he said. “He’s got me on weights.”
LiAngelo Ball scored 24 points and Eli Scott added 21, including a series of fan-pleasing dunks.
First-year Coach Stephan Gilling believes this team can be better than last season’s unbeaten group because it has more depth even though Lonzo Ball has moved on to UCLA.
Chino Hills’ Onyeka Okongwu (21) reacts with teammate Phaquan Davis (11) after a slam dunk in the first quarter against Damien in Chino Hills.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Chino Hills’ Onyeka Okongwu (21) scores easily over Damien’s Elijah McCullough (15) in the second half in Chino Hills.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Chino Hills’ Elijah Scott (0) dunks uncontested against Damien in the second half in Chino Hills on Tuesday.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Chino Hills’ LaMelo Ball (1) passes the ball down court as Damien’s Jacob Ortega (10) defends in the second half in Chino Hills.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The hometown crowd roars after Chino Hills’ Elijah Scott (0) slam dunks against Damien in the second half in Chino Hills on Tuesday.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Chino Hills unveiled a new contributor, Long Beach Millikan transfer Ofure Ujadughele. He scored 10 points and provided evidence that the Huskies might have better depth when they have to face the likes of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon or Torrance Bishop Montgomery in the Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
Cameron Shelton, who was a reserve for Chino Hills last season, scored 32 points for Damien. Coach Mike LeDuc decided to have his team run with the Huskies but it couldn’t keep up. Damien trailed, 66-42, at halftime.
“They’re different because their best player is gone, but it doesn’t mean they’re not ridiculously good,” LeDuc said. “They’ve got four players who’ve gotten bigger, stronger and better.”
About the only bad news for Chino Hills was that Andre Ball, a cousin of the three brothers, injured his shoulder and LiAngelo Ball sprained his ankle. It remains to be seen if they’ll be available for a Friday game against Etiwanda. But have no fear, Chino Hills fans.
“We put on a show every night,” Gilling said.
Klay Thompson returns
Two-time NBA All-Star Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors is returning to his alma mater, Santa Margarita High, on Friday afternoon to have his jersey retired.
The school will hold an assembly to celebrate the 26-year-old’s basketball achievements. He graduated from Santa Margarita in 2008.
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