State Regional Preview: Division I

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 03/17/18 12:04 PM

Chino Hills and St. John Bosco meet Saturday afternoon in the CIF State Southern Regional Division I semifinal at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State.

The Braves, who dropped down into Division I after winning the Southern Section Open Division consolation championship, defeated Rancho Christian, 71-54, Tuesday in the semifinals.

Chino Hills won the Southern Section Division I championship over Pasadena earlier this month at Azusa Pacific and had to go through the Bulldogs again in the regional semis, a game the Huskies pulled out, 77-74, with plenty of controversy that followed.

Bosco and Chino Hills meet for the first time this season and here’s what you need to know heading in to that match-up.

Chino Hills

Overall Record: 24-11

League Record: 6-4, tied for second in Baseline League

Projected Starters: C Onyeka Okongwu (6-9, 215, Jr.); SF Andre Ball (6-7, 180, Sr.); G Ofure Ujadughele (6-3, 185, Sr.); F Nick Manor-Hall (6-4, 190, Jr.); G Jaren Williams (6-2, 175, Sr.)

Key Reserves: G Will Pluma (5-11, 150, Jr.)

How They Win: Get the basketball to Onyeka Okongwu. That’s been Chino Hills’ schtick all season long, and when they get away from that, they struggle. Okongwu is a match-up nightmare for any high school team due to his size, strength athleticism and ability to score with his back to the basket. Big O can expect a lot of hard doubles coming his way from the smaller, quicker Bosco side and guys like Andre Ball, Ofure Ujadughele, Jaren Williams and Will Pluma will need to knock down the open three’s if Okongwu is passing it well out of the post. Chino Hills can also expect the Braves to extend their defense into a full-court pressure type situation based on how the Huskies struggled to take care of the basketball against Pasadena’s press in the Southern Section DI championship game.

St. John Bosco

Overall Record: 25-7

League Record: 6-4, third place in Trinity League

Projected Starters: G Chris James (6-2, 165, Jr.); G Fernando Gomez (6-0, 160, Jr.); F Jonathan Salazar (6-5, 190, Jr.); F Josh Adoh (6-4, 175, Jr.); F Chrystian Medina (6-3, 165, Sr.)

Key Reserves: G Jalen Manson (6-4, 165, Jr.); G Boogie Evans (5-6, 145, Fr.); G Nick Ainsworth (6-3, 195, Jr.); F Jordan Brown (6-3, 185, So.); G Josh Camper (5-10, 150, So.)

How They Win: It will be interesting to see if the Braves try to push the pace and use their depth to their advantage. Bosco coach Matt Dunn will go five deep into his bench consistently to keep his guys fresh for their uptempo drive and kick offense and aggressive defense. The key for the Braves is obvious, but not easily accomplished, and that’s to limit Chino Hills center Onyeka Okongwu. Whether it’s an initial front and weak-side help in the half-court setting or a late hard-double when he touches it, you have to try and make things difficult for Big O. Another key for Bosco is to keep Jonathan Salazar out of foul trouble. We’ve seen many games where Salazar gets overzealous on either end of the floor and finds himself sitting for long periods of time. Salazar is the one player that can physically match-up with Okongwu in the paint. If the Braves watched any film on Chino Hills’ game against Pasadena, they’ll know they can speed the game up with their speed and pressure as the Huskies guards are turnover prone when being pressured in the back-court. The Braves are a lethal 3-point shooting team and will need Gomez, James and Adoh to be knocking in those open shots.