For five years, the Ball family ruled Chino Hills basketball. Patriarch LaVar Ball oversaw the rise of eldest son Lonzo from promising point guard to surefire NBA Draft pick. In Lonzo’s senior season the Huskies won everything, taking a state and USA TODAY Super 25 national title. Lonzo was the All-USA Player of the Year. A season and new coach later, Chino Hills was led by senior LiAngelo and sophomore LaMelo Ball, but fell short of another berth in the state title game.
That all preceded the great Lithuanian experiment, in which a home-schooled LaMelo Ball left Chino Hills for professional future in Europe. That was brought on by the third head coach in as many years at Chino Hills, Dennis Latimore, one whom both LaVar and LaMelo publicly chastised as soon as he left.
Now, with a California Interscholastic Federation Division I state title under his belt, it’s fair to say that the scoreboard reads Latimore 1, Ball 0.
The Huskies wrapped up their second state title in three seasons late Friday night, with a 73-68 win over Las Lomas. Junior Onyeka Okongwu, the unquestioned leader of his squad following the departure of LaMelo Ball, led the Huskies with 27 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and five blocks.
The last remaining member of the Ball family still at Chino Hills, Lonzo and LaMelo cousin Andre Ball, has 17 points in the victory.
“It feels great,” Latimore told the media following the Huskies’ state title win. “We peaked at the right time.”
Or, perhaps the Huskies were finally able to focus, free of the Ball family traveling circus that now gets its exposure on Facebook Watch.
Another quote from Latimore in the postgame press conference was even better aligned with what has unfolded at Chino Hills over the past six months, even if that isn’t what Latimore was asked about; reporters wanted to know about his team’s ability to play without Okongwu (who was lost in the state title game to foul trouble), but his statement about the big man could just as easily be true for LaMelo and LaVar Ball:
“I think the team showed they are more than one individual player,” Latimore said. “Our big guy went out, but the team stayed united. That’s what teamwork is all about, and they went and got it done.”