There was a 10-year-old boy dressed in a UCLA jersey who sat in the first row near the Chino Hills bench on Friday night at LaVerne Damien. He kept shouting to LaMelo Ball to “shoot from half court.” That’s what happens when there’s a YouTube video of Ball pointing to the half-court line in a game this season, then launching a shot that goes in. Even Steph Curry saw it and commented.
Soon the young fan had changed allegiances to brother LiAngelo Ball, and for good reason. LiAngelo Ball started throwing up threes en masse. He finished with 52 points and 10 threes as Chino Hills defeated Damien, 124-102, to improve to 22-0 and win its 57th consecutive game.
“He does what he does every night,” Chino Hills Coach Stephan Gilling said of LiAngelo Ball, the UCLA-bound senior who has games of 72 and 60 points this season. “I’ve known Gelo a long time, and those shots are part of his genetic makeup.”
There were some 2,400 fans who packed into The Pit to see the latest entertainment provided by Ball & Co.
LaVar Ball, the father of LaMelo, LiAngelo and UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball, sat nearby barking out instructions from his first-row seat. He’s made it clear what it will take to beat Chino Hills: “We can’t lose until you find somebody who can play like us.”
The Huskies throw up shots from everywhere and don’t hesitate even if there’s an occasional air ball. LiAngelo Ball was missing shot after shot in the early going. By halftime, he had 27 points, including three consecutive threes in the second quarter when Chino Hills opened a 64-46 lead.
Damien, playing without Coach Mike LeDuc, who is ill, pulled to within 13 points several times in the second half, only to see the Huskies surge and reassert control. Eli Scott contributed 29 points and 23 rebounds for Chino Hills, while Onyeka Okongwu had 17 points, LaMelo Ball had 12 and Phaquan Davis Ball added 11. Colin Cuniff scored 35 points for Damien (21-3, 4-2), including nine threes. Cameron Shelton added 30 points.
As with every Chino Hills game, opponents get lots of open shots, but the frantic pace and constant pressure wear them down. The Huskies’ stamina and ability to counterattack has led to two consecutive seasons of opponents failing to come out on top.
Chino Hills is expected to race through the Baseline League unbeaten and if the Huskies close out the regular season undefeated, they will be the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Open Division playoffs, where Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and others are lurking.
“They have to keep up with us,” Gilling said. “That’s the mindset.”
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times