Chino Hills wins record fourth straight championship in the Covina tournament, beats Bonita 53-42; Damien beats Don Lugo 67-66 in nailbiter to capture Nogales tourney

By Fred J. Robledo
In terms of history, the 57th annual Covina Christmas Tournament has it all.
Legendary Bill Walton was named the tournament MVP for Helix High in 1969 and other tournament MVPs have included Byron Scott (Morningside 1979), Mike Smith (Los Altos, 1982), Stacey Augmon (Muir, 1985), and two-time winner Cameron Murray (Glendora, 1993-94). (To continue, click thread).

Chino Hills etched its own piece of history in the Covina Tournament on Thursday, winning for a record fourth consecutive year, defeating Bonita 53-42 behind a stellar performance from senior AJ Hecox, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

Forward Jon Richman gave the Bearcats fits in the paint to finish with 12 points to help the Huskies improve to 9-1 while the Bearcats, who got a team-high 13 points from Jordan Butler and 11 from Garrett Pendleton, dropped to 12-3.

It was the Huskies’ third victory over Bonita in the Covina final during its four-year reign, which also included a semifinal victory over the Bearcats in the 2008 tournament.

Bonita had been tied with host Covina with three-straight titles until Thursday.

Covina won its three straight titles from 1961-63.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Chino Hills coach Steve Baik said. “When you think of the history here, there is no way you think you can win four titles in a row. It means a lot, especially having success over a team like Bonita, which always has a great program.”

Chino Hills won the past two titles with two-time MVP Derek Brown, but this year’s MVP, Hecox, hit big shot after big shot.

Bonita’s Garrett Horine finished an 8-0 run with a putback to tie the score, 28-28 with 3:17 left. But the Huskies’ Cameron Curry hit a three-pointer and Hecox finished a fast break to give the Huskies a 35-31 lead at the end of the third.

Then it was Hecox again in the fourth, hitting a three-pointer to go up 38-33, then scoring on a beautiful up-and-under with 1:09 left for a 47-41 lead.

By Rudy J. Ramos Correspondent

While the Damien High School boys basketball team cruised to the championship game of the Nogales Tournament, Don Lugo High School had to scratch and claw their way to the championship game.

“Every game is a fight for us”, said Don Lugo coach William Thigpen. “We don’t have much height but, we make up for it in our athleticism and quickness.”

However, those two virtues we’re not enough as Damien (13-0) captured the championship by the score of 67-66.

“I’m proud of the way our team stepped it up tonight”, said Spartans’ coach Matt Dunn.
“They (Don Lugo) played and an incredible game tonight. They made us work for every shot and played outstanding defense on Chris.”

The Spartans were lead by forward Chris Reyes who had a game-high 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds to along with four block shots.

In a see saw game that saw 21 lead changes, Damien knew it was in battle from the beginning as the Conquistadors match basket for basket as the Spartans lead 34-32 at halftime.

“I knew I had to step up in the second half”, said Reyes. “I told my teammates to give me the ball in the second half”.

Reyes responded by scoring 15 points in the second half.

Neither team lead by more than six points.

Entering the fourth quarter, Don Lugo had a 51-49 lead, but it was Reyes who came up big as he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.

With 5:45 remaining, Conquistadors’ Paul Evans, who finished with 23 points, hit a 3-pointer from top of the key which gave Don Lugo a 54-51 lead.

With Don Lugo leading 64-61 with 1:40 remaining, the Spartans put the ball in the hands of Reyes.

Trailing 66-65 with fourteen seconds remaining in the game, the Spartans feed the ball inside to Reyes who was double-teamed yet, as able to score the game-winning basket with four seconds remaining.

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