Battle Zone: Friday showdowns loom in Corona

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 12/1/17 10:24 AM

CORONA, Ca. – Thursday night’s action at Centennial High set the stage for what should be a couple of nifty showdowns Friday evening in the Battle Zone Tournament.

Etiwanda (69-57 over Orange Lutheran), Chino Hills (92-74 over El Cajon Foothills Christian), Temecula Rancho Christian (66-52 over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde) and the host Huskies (101-68 over Santa Clarita Christian) each looked the part of a strong contender to play in the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoff bracket in February.

And so the Chino Hills-Rancho Christian (6:30) and Centennial-Etiwanda (8) contests Friday night will have a definite “playoff feel”, if you will.

Relative to the competition it faced – Foothills Christian is led by St. Augustine transfer and McDonald’s All-American Taeshon Cherry, who is bound for USC – Chino Hills turned in Thursday’s most impressive performance.

The Huskies are 3-0 in their first season under new head coach Dennis Latimore and for those wondering how much “slippage” there would be following personnel losses of Eli Scott (Loyola Marymount), LiAngelo Ball (UCLA) and Social Media Mega Star Melo Ball (who would have been a junior but is now out of high school and being “home-schooled”) the answer, at least upon my first viewing Thursday is:

Not a whole lot.

Onyeka Okongwu (37 points on 14 of 16 from the field while hitting each of his nine free throws; 11 rebounds and five blocked shots) and looked every bit the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2019 in the west.

Six-foot-six Andre Ball (pictured) – the first cousin of Lonzo, LiAngelo and Melo whose first three seasons have been hampered by injuries, notably of the shoulder-variety – nailed jumpers (he had a couple of 3s in the second quarter), punched dunks and soared for rebounds while scoring 20 points and snatching six rebounds.

Six-three Ofure Ujadughele (11 points, five rebounds and four assists) is one of the more underrated senior guards in Southern California and the same could be same of Phaquon Davis (three 3s) in the junior class.

And the most improved player in the program may be 6-4 junior Nick Manor Hall.

The frontcourt battle between the Huskies’ duo of Ball and Okongwu and Rancho Christian’s Brother Combo of Isaiah and Evan Mobley should be a dandy Friday night.