SANTA ANA, Calif. — Chino Hills (Calif.) ran the same out-of-bounds play on the baseline it has run 1,000 times.
LaMelo Ball takes the ball out and finds brother LiAngelo Ball coming off a flare screen in the short corner on the right side of the floor.
Chino Hills, clinging to its 60-game winning streak (the third-longest in California history), trailed perennial national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) by three, 94-91, with nine seconds to play.
The Huskies got the look they wanted.
LiAngelo Ball got off a clean shot from that spot behind-the-arc that he’s so familiar with, but his 35th shot of the game ended up being his 27th miss, and No. 8 Oak Hill closed out the 96-91 victory against No. 5 Chino Hills late Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd of more than 3,500 at Nike Extravaganza.
LiAngelo Ball, the UCLA bound star who finished with 23 points on just 8 of 35 from the field, put the loss directly on his shoulders.
“I’ve got to prepare better for my team,” he said. “I needed to help my team more than I did. I’m disappointed in myself for that.”
Iowa State-bound Lindell Wigginton was on the opposite side of that spectrum, scoring 14 of his team-high 35 points over the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.
“I’m always confident going into every game,” Wigginton said. “It’s not just a California thing, it’s me all the time.”
LaMelo Ball, the sophomore showman, picked up the slack left by his older brother while at the same time providing most of the in-game entertainment.
The shifty 6-foot-2 guard scored a game-high 36 points on 12 of 26 shooting, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range and a number of impressive passes and moves off the dribble.
Melo gave credit to Oak Hill’s physicality and expressed the need for his team to appreciate the win streak, while also moving past it and focusing on the next game.
“They’re big, good on the glass and tough inside,” he said. “We just missed shots. We have to bounce back and not lose anymore.”
Chino Hills looked to be in complete control throughout the first half, jumping out to a quick 14-4 lead in the first quarter.
Oak Hill (27-3) battled back to tie it at 25 on a bucket from Kansas-bound forward Billy Preston at the 7:16 mark of the second before the Huskies took their largest lead of the game, 45-31, with a 20-6 run capped by a powerful offensive rebound finish from Elizjah Scott at the 2:39 mark of the period.
Oak Hill hung around throughout the third quarter, cutting the Chino Hills lead to four, 72-68, with a 7-2 run, capped by a bucket from Texas-bound Matt Coleman, to close the period.
The Huskies pushed their lead back to eight, 80-72, with a basket from sophomore big man Onyeka Okongwu and a free throw from Ofure Ujadughele with just over five minutes to play.
That’s when Wigginton began his takeover and Chino Hills streak was put on the ropes.
The Warriors took their first lead of the game, 84-83, on a basket from Wigginton with less than three minutes to play.
Wigginton added another bucket to put Oak Hill up three, 86-83, before Melo Ball tied it at 86 with a deep 3-pointer with 1:45 left.
The Warriors extended their lead to six, 94-88, courtesy of three free throws from Creighton-bound guard Ty-Shon Alexander, but Melo again made it a one possession game, 94-91, hitting a triple with 11 seconds to go.
Oak Hill turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds, setting up the above-mentioned 3-pointer from Gelo Ball.
“Their style of play is totally different from anyone we’ve ever played,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “You can’t simulate it in practice, but our guys hung in there and we’re going to play until the buzzer goes off.”
Preston finished with 16 points and 21 rebounds for Oak Hill, while McCormack and Alexander added 11 apiece.
Okongwu scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Chino Hills. Scott pitched in 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Chino Hills has two Baseline League games remaining before entering the CIF-SS Open Division playoff slate as the projected No. 2 seed behind Sierra Canyon.