Chino Hills (Calif.) has completed its perfect season and solidified its spot atop the USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25.
The Huskies (35-0) beat De La Salle (Concord), 70-50, for the CIF State Open Division title Saturday in Sacramento, punctuated by its usual high-flying end-to-end style and key performances by the UCLA-bound Ball Brothers.
Because the CIF does not allow its teams to play beyond the state championship, Chino Hills will not take part in the DICK’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals in New York this week.
The immediate aftermath spurred conversation about whether this Chino Hills team is the best in California, especially after playing a tough schedule that included the City of Palms Classic in Florida and an appearance at the Spalding HoopHall Classic in Massachusetts beyond a difficult run of teams in Southern California. Most of those games include lopsided margins.
Whether or not, Chino Hills is the best ever or the best in recent memory, the Huskies were the best this season.
“During the playoff round, everything came together for us,” Chino Hills coach Steve Baik told USA TODAY Sports. “We beat a lot of good teams by a considerable margin because of the way we played defense.”
That challenge included a rare halftime deficit as De La Salle slowed the pace and led 30-28 after taking a 19-9 lead. This against a Chino Hills team that tied the state record with 18 games of 100 points or more.
“The biggest thing at the half is Lonzo got on his teammates for not really playing with energy,” Baik said. “Plus, our center was not playing up to par. In the second half, he did what he was supposed to do in the first half.”
Lonzo Ball and the Huskies opened the second half with a 15-2 run and outscored De La Salle 19-5 in the third quarter. The Huskies also held De La Salle (31-3) to 25 percent shooting in the second half after the Spartans hit at a 50 percent clip in the first half.
For Chino Hills, senior Lonzo Ball had 15 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and five assists. LaMelo Ball had 14 points. LiAngelo Ball had 18 points. Eli Scott added 16 points and eight rebounds and Onyeka Okongwu had seven points, nine rebounds and blocked five shots.
With the state and national titles in hand, Lonzo Ball heads to Chicago on Sunday for the McDonald’s All American Game.