Chino Hills boys will learn from tough state setback

Chino Hills coach Steve Baik talks about double overtime loss to San Ramon Valley

The Chino Hills boys basketball team couldn’t quite finish the job. The Huskies lost the Division I state title game to San Ramon Valley 79-71 in double overtime Friday night at Cal-Berkeley.

There will be a lot of “what ifs” for the Huskies. The biggest of those . . . What if star player Lonzo Ball hadn’t fouled out with 3:17 left in regulation of a nip and tuck contest?

The Huskies did will to survive a first overtime but collapsed in the second. But give San Ramon Valley some credit. The Wolves made all the clutch shots down the stretch.

The Huskies have gotten just enough offense from players not named Ball to advance this far. But in the end the inexperience of those players showed.

The scarey thing, the entire team will be back in tact. The team has five seniors, but only one of those saw significant playing time, that being Jared Nyivih. They’ll also have the two transfers who weren’t eligible and are expected to be huge contributors next year in Shane Hopkins (Ayala) and Eli Scott (Upland).

They’ll also have another Ball, this one also supposedly very good.

Look for the Huskies to use this loss as motivation moving forward.


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Damien captures Division III championship

VIDEO: Damien coach Matt Dunn talks about his team and the win.

Battle tested. The Damien Spartans were definitely that.

Coach Matt Dunn’s team played a tough non-league schedule, then outlasted the likes of Etiwanda and Chino Hills to win the Baseline League which was likely the toughest league, at least in Southern California, this season.

Not only did the Spartans (29-5) win the league, they went 9-1 which is pretty impressive. And they were the new kid on the block.

Now they are the Division III STATE champions, having surged past Campolindo 70-57 on Friday at Haas Pavilion at Cal-Berkeley.

When it came to the postseason, the Spartans were calm and collected under pressure. The big game atmosphere didn’t get to them. When the Cougars made a run, the Spartans stayed poised.

These players trust on each other. That has to be part of the confidence and poise as well. Jeremy Hemsley is the leader and the most talented player. But there were a lot of contributors, as is usually the case for a quality team and program.

Hemsley had 20 points and 10 rebounds. But Micah Robinson was huge – 17 points off the bench including five 3 pointers. Sophomore Justin Hemsley, Jeremy’s brother, had some key rebounds in the second half. Bryce Peters had 12 while Malik Fitts had nine with 12 rebounds, the highlight being a big 3-point play in the fourth quarter.



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Chino Hills boys basketball team to play in Florida next December

The Chino Hills boys basketball team has developed a national reputation in the past couple of years led by a marquee player in UCLA-bound junior Lonzo Ball.

Well the Huskies will be part of the 43rd Culligan City of Palms Classic field Dec.18-23 in Fort Myers, Fla. The event has become one of the nation’s premier basketball events.

The event features 20 teams from around the country, 16 of which compete in one main bracket with four others in what is called a Signature Series. Those schools are typically from basketball academies/boarding schools.

Tournament Director Donnie Wilkie says Chino Hills was one of the first schools he locked in for the coming season. He typically tries to get teams from different geographic regions while sprinkling in some locals.

Sierra Canyon, which won the Division V state title early Friday, played in the event last year. Mater Dei has competed there on multiple occasions.

“We try to get the big fish from as many ponds as possible and then put them in one big pond,” Wilkie said. “We’re about great teams and great players but great stories too.”




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All the CIF state championship results and games

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Here is the complete schedule for CIF state championship games this weekend at Cal-Berkeley:

Friday’s games

Division V Girls – La Jolla Country Day 40, Eastside (Palo Alto) 36
Division V Boys -  Sierra Canyon 80, University (San Francisco) 55
Division III Girls – Bishop O’Dowd 55, Brea Olinda 40
Division III Boys – Damien 70, Campolindo (Moraga) 57
Division I Girls – McClatchy (Sacramento) 65, Serra 61 (2 OT)
Division I Boys -  San Ramon Valley 79, Chino Hills 71 (2 OT)

Saturday’s games
Division IV Girls – Sierra Canyon 69, Brookside Chr. (Stockton) 56
Division IV Boys – Crespi 47, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 44
Division II Girls – Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 53, Mark Keppel 31
Division II Boys – La Mirada 71, Archbishop Mitty 70 (2 OT)
Open Girls – St. Mary’s (Stockton) 76, Mater Dei 69
Open Division Boys: Bishop O’Dowd 65, Mater Dei 64 (OT)





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Baseline proves to be superior league in boys basketball

Damien coach Matt Dunn talks about how the Baseline prepared his team for the title run.

There are some strong leagues in Southern California when it comes to boys basketball. But it is the Baseline League looking like the best of all of them.

Not one, but two teams will be going for state championships this weekend as Damien takes on Campolindo for the Division 3 title at 4 p.m. Friday at Haas Pavilion at Cal-Berkeley.

Later in the day Chino Hills faces San Ramon Valley at 8 in the Division 1 final.

There easily could have been a third team in Etiwanda which competed with the elite of the elite in the Open Division and stayed in the Open for the state portion of the playoffs. The Eagles got to the semifinal before losing to LA Fairfax. It is the Eagles who boasted a rare win over Mater Dei AT Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section.

The Baseline League was one of three leagues that got three teams into the Open Division for the Southern Section playoffs. The other two were the Trinity League (Mater Dei, St. John Bosco, Orange Lutheran) and the Del Ray (Cathedral, Bishop Montgomery, Cantwell Sacred Heart).

But to have two get to the final and another make the open semifinal, well that’s quite a feat.

All three local teams have something in common. They played very tough -schedules. They also had the benefit of great league games. So they’re battle tested. That has to be a factor in them advancing this far and playing in to April. Well, within a few days of April anyway.

We in the Inland Empire have always known how good the talent is here. This just might be what it takes for those outside out own little bubble to recognize it.

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Alta Loma’s Amy Armstrong chooses a local college

Amy Armstrong

Amy Armstrong of Alta Loma wanted to stay close to home for college and she was lucky to find a premier program in commuter distance.

The 6-foot-1 middle blocker has committed to Cal State San Bernardino a dominant competitor  in the California Collegiate Athletic Conference and a figure on the national scene under veteran coach Kim Cherniss.

It is a perfect fit.

Cherniss and assistant Danny Scott have done an outstanding job of developing players at the middle blocker position and have churned out several All-Americans there. They had two there last year in Tori May and Brenna McIntosh. May has graduated while McIntosh will be a senior.

Cherniss has also been good at maintaining a local presence on her roster. Yes she’ll go out and get that top recruit from elsewhere but there are always local players on her roster as well.

Armstrong was a key player for a Braves team that is coming off its best season in school history. Alta Loma (36-3) easily won the Mt. Baldy League and cruised to a Southern Section title. They went on to the state playoffs and marched all the way to the state title game before being dealt a 3-2 loss.

Armstrong, a first-team Mt. Baldy League selection, registered 171 kills and a team-high 109 blocks.

She was also considering Cal State East Bay and New Mexico-Highlands, both Division II schools.



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