Posted On: 03/21/18 3:21 PM
LONG BEACH – Five observations from the Saturday afternoon Chino Hills vs. St. John Bosco Southern Regional Division I final played in the Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State and won by Chino Hills, 67-51:
*This is a game that players, coaches and fans of both teams are going to remember – half, joyfully the other 50 percent . . . not so much – for a good long while.
The SJB Braves, for the most part, dominated the first three quarters of the game and was up, 49-40, heading into the final quarter.
But they were overwhelmed, 27-2, over the final eight minutes.
Well, the Braves – who had executed their half-court to near-perfection over the first 24 minutes, usually terminating it with layups or 3-point jumpers (11 made in that stretch).
On the other end their zone defense double- and, at times, triple-teamed 6-foot-9 Onyeka Okongwu, limited the best big man – and best player, period – in California to just three of seven shooting.
But, almost immediately, the Braves starting missing shots and, just as critically, starting attempting them much earlier into possessions that they had over the first three quarters.
And the Huskies – led by Okongwu, who was to finish with four points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists in the quarter – started clearing rebounds and turning them into rapid-fire transition offense, often attacking back-peddling defenders instead of that zone that caused them so many headaches.
That’s a big reason why the Huskies, and not the Braves, will play Las Lomas Friday night in Sacramento for a state championship.
*Okongwu’s overall skill level has been on display on season, notably during the team’s nine playoff games (five sectional, four regional).
Even when he has a sub-part scoring game (he finished with 12), his influence as a shot blocker (and shot “alterer”), rebounder, passer and player who can never be played straight up, defensively, is unrivaled in the west.
*Andre Ball finished with 32 points, 15 of those via shots from behind the arc, against the Braves.
Injury-plagued much of his first three years, the 6-6 Ball has evolved into one of the most explosive “scorers” in Southern California as a senior.
*Another Chino Hills player who has made incredible progress as a senior – and who is evolving into strong college prospect, as well – is 6-3 Ofure Ujadughele (PICTURED).
His jump shot was off over the first three quarters but he hit two 3s for 10 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 20 points.
His evolution from “undersized post” two years ago as a Long Beach Millikan sophomore to “future NCAA D-I point guard” has been remarkable.
*And don’t be surprised to see Coach Matt Dunn’s Braves back in the hunt for championships – on the Southern Section, Regional and State levels – in 2018-19.
He’s got a roster loaded with high-quality juniors, sophomores and freshmen, including three players in juniors Joshua Adoh, Christian James and Jonathan Salazar who were all-Southern Section Open Division selections.