East County Sports

Knights top bill, but No. 1 Chino prevails




By Ramon Scott



CORONA – The Foothills Christian Knights looked like the real No. 1 team in the nation in the first half against current top-ranked Chino Hills Friday night at the BattleZone Tournament at Centennial High.

But Chino Hills proved its billing in a come-from-behind 90-73 win over the Knights in one of those closer-than-the-score indicated results. It was the 39th-straight victory for the Huskies.

Foothills Christian opened the game with a 14-0 run, but Chino Hills smashed back with a 12-0 run its own, as JORDAN VAN OMMERING had eight points and teammate JAYLEN HANDS had seven in first quarter for the Knights.


Foothills’ JAYLEN HANDS dunks Friday night against Chino Hills at Centennial High.

FCHS led 19-17 after one period and led at halftime, 42-36, as the Knights executed a different approach than last year’s meetings, trying to slow the game and the fast-breaking Huskies. Chino contributed to the success by shooting poorly in the first half.

JAREN NAFARRETE opened the second period with a three from the left wing for FCHS, then moments later, Van Ommering hit a three for a 27-21 lead three minutes into the period. Hands then got an offensive rebound and strong put-back off the glass to make it an eight-point advantage.

T.J. LOWERY hit a three-point for Foothills to make it 32-23 mid-way through the second. Hands’ steal and layup just about a minute later gave FCHS a 36-28 lead. Naferrete held keep the lead at eight with just over a minute remaining when he intercepted a pass and fed Hands, who went in for the dunk.

KALE BALDADO threw in a floater for Foothills in the opening minute of the third for a 44-39 Knights’ edge. After the Huskies had rallied to finally tie the game at 44-44, Baldado was caught underneath on a move to the rim, but somehow tossed the ball back to a cutting Hands, who scored to give FCHS a 46-44 lead two minutes into the third.

Hands had 15 points at halftime and 26 at the end of three, as he scored a two-point bucket, then a long three-pointer at the third-period buzzer to make the score 60-57 in favor of the Huskies.

Baldado hit an impressive floater to open the fourth, but Chino used a 9-2 run in the third that propelled them into the lead early in the third, taking a 53-48 edge, as Hands stopped the run by fighting for a loose ball, then fighting for it again, before putting it back up and in.


KALE BALDADO, of Foothills Christian, puts up a shot against Chino Hills at the BattleZone Tournament in Corona on Friday.

Although the Huskies were still missing a majority of their shots, this time they were getting the rebounds against the Knights, and final converting.

Nafarrete went underneath a Huskies player for a scoop bucket that cut the lead to 53-51.

The game was tied 68-68 mid-way through the fourth period after Nafarrete buried a three from the left wing, but the Huskies opened up the advantage to eight points with 1:45 to go in the game. Chino had led just 71-68 with 3:37 to go.

Chino Hills closed the game with a 22-8 run that made the 17-point result appear to be a one-sided affair, as the Knights fell cold over the final minutes.

LaMelo Ball finished with 38 points for Chino Hills, while teammate LiAngelo Ball added 28. Elizjah Scott was also pivotal offensively in the fourth-period Huskies’ surge, as he dominated the offensive boards and scored on several putbacks.

LaMelo Ball’s penetration, control and finish underneath is one of the toughest shots to guard against for any player in the country. And along with his play-making and passing ability, the Huskies were able to turn away the Knights’ upset charge.

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