A couple of misses. A couple of turnovers. A couple of transition slam-dunks, and suddenly you’re behind by 18. Chino Hills has done it to other opponents. They did it to previously-unbeaten Woodcreek, 108-93, Wednesday night in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational.
Behind 61 points from LaMelo (28) and LiAngelo Ball (33), and an additional 25 from Elizjah Scott, the Huskies threatened to run off in the first and second halves at the Rancho Mirage Gym before finally sprinting clear of the challengers in the final six minutes.
Chino Hills (14-0) led by seven in the first quarter, and dashed off to an 18-point lead twice in the third quarter, only to see the Timberwolves (12-1) scratch their way back into the contest, cutting the lead to 10 with two minutes gone in the fourth quarter. But a 7-2 response over the next minute, including two 3-point baskets from LaMelo Ball, the Huskies stretched their lead back to 15, 90-75, and the Timberwolves never threatened again.
“Our guys are always ready to play, and their goal tonight was to come out and win, and that’s what we did,” said Chino Hills coach Stephan Gilling. “It’s all defense. We want to play solid defense, then put the ball in the basket on offense.”
READ MORE:Ball family puts fun back in basketball
After quickly falling behind, 15-7 in a wide-open first three minutes, Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes called a time out and urged his players to settle into a half-court game. The Timberwolves executed as he hoped, and a Jordan Brown dunk with 2:00 to play in the first half capped a 31-22 run that gave Woodcreek a 38-37 lead. It would be its last lead of the game.
Chino Hills finished the second quarter on a 12-4 run to establish a 49-42 halftime lead, punctuated by a putback basket from post Onyeka Okongwu with :01 left. An old-fashioned three-point play by LiAngelo Ball, and a flying slam-dunk from Scott re-established a 62-47 Huskies’ lead with just over three minutes gone in the second half. A three-point basket from LaMelo Ball just seconds later built the lead back up to 18, and Chino Hills took an 81-67 lead into the final quarter.
“Their athleticism really hurt us,” Hayes said. “I thought we missed some really good looks, and if we’d have done a better job on the offensive boards, I think we could have kept it closer.”
The loss overshadowed quality performances from Woodcreek post man Jordan Brown, the top-ranked center in the Class of 2018, and guard Tyrell Roberts. Brown was the game’s high-scorer with 39 points, while Roberts pitched in 17 with one three-point basket.
Chino Hills will now take on Pleasant Grove (UT) in the open division semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the Rancho Mirage Gym. Woodcreek falls into the consolation bracket where it will face Archbishop Mitty in the “small gym” Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Chino Hills 108, Woodcreek 93
Chino Hills 21 28 32 27 -108
Woodcreek 18 24 25 26 -93
Chino Hills (108) — (FG-FT-FTA-TP) Elizjah Scott, 10, 5-7, 25; LaMelo Ball, 7, 8-10, 28; LiAngelo Ball, 14, 2-4, 33; Phaquan Davis, 1, 3-3, 6; Onyeka Okongwu, 6, 4-6, 16.
Totals 38, 22-30, 108
Woodcreek (93)– (FG-FT-FTA-TP) Tyrell Roberts, 8, 0-1, 17; Brendan Covello, 2, 0-0, 6; Jackson Hughes, 7, 0-0, 16; Jordan Brown, 18, 3-4, 39; Truman Sharp, 0, 1-2, 1; Delis Boggs-Smith, 6, 0-0, 14. Totals 41, 4-7, 93.
3-Point Goals – Chino Hills – 7 (LaMelo Ball 4, LiAngelo Ball 3).
Woodcreek – 7 (Tyrell Roberts 1, Jackson Hughes 2, Delis Boggs-Smith 2, Brendan Covelo 2).