Posted On: 12/4/17 1:30 AM
The BattleZone at Corona Centennial has quickly become one of the most competitive tournaments Southern California has to offer.
Since its inception in 2015, the BattleZone has played host to many of SoCal’s top high school programs, including the home Huskies, Chino Hills, Rancho Christian, Etiwanda, Orange Lutheran and Foothills Christian.
The above-mentioned squads were participants in the 2017 edition of the BattleZone and the results were much the same as always: High level teams with high level players going head-to-head on a relatively neutral court.
Rancho Christian, led by the Mobley brothers, Isaiah and Evan, took home the title by beating Etiwanda, 78-54, Saturday night.
One thing we learned from our BattleZone attendance was that this event is a must-attend for media, SoCal basketball fans and any team that wants a stiff early season test.
Here’s what else we learned:
Rancho Christian proved itself as a serious Open Division contender
There’s no playoff division grouping more difficult than California’s CIF Southern Section Open Division, and this season, with only eight teams allowed in, it’s become an even more exclusive club. Rancho Christian has been on the cusp of entering the Open field ever since coach Ray Barefield took over and this season could potentially be the year they break in. The versatility of 6-foot-9 forward Isaiah Mobley and 6-foot-10 forward Evan Mobley allows Barefield to create matchup nightmares against any team. Sophomore point guard Jordan Montgomery, along with senior wings K.J. Redfield and Isaiah Knox are each beginning to turn the corner in their developments. The key factor for the Eagles will be the production off the bench from senior guard Stephen Park and freshman wing Luke Turner.
Etiwanda’s Kessler Edwards turning potential into production
The 6-foot-6 Pepperdine-signee has always looked the part of a Division I college wing with his huge wingspan and fluid athleticism, but many times only showed flashes of high level production. Edwards has taken his game to another level so far this season as evidenced by a couple of double-double performances in leading Etiwanda to the BattleZone championship game. The senior had 23 points and 11 rebounds against Orange Lutheran Thursday and his points came in a
variety of ways, including from 3-point range, which has been the weakest part of his offensive repertoire over the last few years.
Onyeka Okongwu is benefitting from new-look Chino Hills squad
The biggest storyline around these parts heading into the year was LaMelo Ball departing Chino Hills and how that might affect the SoCal basketball landscape. Well, 6-foot-9 center Onyeka Okongwu looked plenty fine without his running mate. The junior put up gaudy numbers throughout the event, including a 37-point (on 14 of 16 field goals) and 13 rebound performance in a dominant win over Foothills Christian. The Huskies are still playing a fast and free-flowing type of offense, but they do work inside-out and Okongwu, the top prospect in SoCal’s 2019 class, should have a huge season.
Keep an eye on Foothills Christian forward Derrick Carter-Hollinger
Every college program would benefit from a high motor wing with good size, length and defensive versatility. Carter-Hollinger, 6-foot-5 wing, has been just that for the last couple of years, but his offensive game is beginning to evolve, as well. The junior dropped 35 points on opening night at the BattleZone and continued his tear throughout the week. The key factor in Carter-Hollinger’s uptick in offensive production is the heightened confidence he has in his perimeter jump shot.