AZUSA, CA - Chino Hills won their first Southern Section title since the Lonzo Ball era, three years ago, with a 72-56 Division One victory over UNLV-commit Bryce Hamilton and Pasadena.
Chino Hills led the Bulldogs by seven, late in the third quarter. Five-star recruit Onyeka Okongwu skied through the middle of the lane for Chino Hills and slammed the ball through, igniting the crowd. One play later, Okongwu caught a Ofure Ujadughele lob pass and flushed it down to give Chino Hills a 45-34 advantage with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Andre Ball, cousin of the three famed Ball brothers, scored at the buzzer to put Chino Hills up 52-43 after three. Okongwu finished the quarter with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
Ujadughele stole the ball from Pasadena and dunked at the other end to bring the house down yet again with two minutes left, Chino Hills leading 66-54. Okongwu continued to dominate, until the last minute of play, blocking Hamilton and scoring to seal a wire-to-wire Chino Hills victory.
Okongwu scored an incredible 38 points on just 20 shots, only missing two, in addition to grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out four assists. “My teammates played great and we fought through a lot of adversity to get here,” he said.
Chino Hills lost superstar point guard LaMelo Ball before the season to a professional league in Lithuania, and got upset last season in the Open Division by Mater Dei and Bishop Montgomery. The Huskies have earned a sixth overall seed in the state tournament and will play Mater Dei Catholic (San Diego) in the first round.
Okongwu added, “I’m just dunking everything. I come in with a lot of energy and effort, doing everything I can to help us win.” He also picked up three blocks on the defensive end. Ujadughele pushed the tempo all game long, scoring 16 points with nine boards. Andre Ball struggled from the floor, shooting just three-of-ten, but posted totals of eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Pasadena jumped out to an early lead, thanks to five quick points from Hamilton, three of which came at the buzzer to end the first quarter. The Bulldogs led 14-12 after one, but lost the second quarter 19-13. Okongwu scored 18 points in just the first half, 12 in the quarter to really get it going for Chino Hills.
Hamilton poured in 22 points and was five-for-five from the free-throw line. Pasadena also got major production from Tavian Percy, who scored 16 points, but got no added flare from their bench. The Bulldogs didn’t score a single point off the bench, a key indication of the final result.