SANTA ANA, Ca. – A winning streak that had reached 60 finally met its match Saturday night during the 22nd Nike Extravaganza in Mater Dei High’s Meruelo Center.
The Chino Hills Huskies seemed well on their way to extending that streak to 61 in front of a elbow-to-elbow gathering of 3,300 plus while building that first-half advantage against Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill Academy behind the dynamic play of sophomore point guard Melo Ball.
But the first 59 victims in that remarkable run didn’t have what the Warriors threw right back at the Huskies – and that streak.
Oak Hill used the strong inside punch of senior Billy Preston (16 points and 21 rebounds) and junior David McCormack (11 and 13) and a terrific corps of future major college guards to not only recover from that early deficit but to go ahead in the final couple of minutes and top the Huskies, 96-91.
And the guard who did the most to keep the Warriors from figuratively being run out of the building in the first half – and then provided the impetus down the stretch needed to bust that national attention-grabbing streak – was Iowa State-bound Lindell Wigginton.
Wigginton scored 16 points in the first half to keep his team within 10 points (at 51-41) of the Huskies and then dropped in 19 more after intermission – including a dagger-like 3 that padded his team’s advantage to five points in the final minutes.
And, on a night during which leading scorer Gelo Ball missed 27 of his 35 shots from the floor for Chino Hills, the Huskies came oh-so-close to extending that streak to 61 despite the play of the aforementioned Wigginton & Co.
After Melo Ball’s seventh 3 (in 14 attempts) got the Huskies to within 94-91with just less than 12 seconds to go, the Warriors (25-3) were called for an inbounds violation with 9.9 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, the slender (6-foot-2 and 150 or so pounds) Melo Ball, who finished with 36 mostly dazzling points, inbounded to big brother (6-5 and 240ish) Gelo, who launched – and missed – a potential tying 3 from the right corner.
Wigginton secured the ball for the Warriors and was fouled – and hit two securing free throws – with five seconds remaining.
Senior forward Elizjah Scott scored 11 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Huskies but missed six free throws in the third quarter and committed six turnovers for Chino Hills, which will attempt to start a new winning streak when it faces Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos Tuesday evening in a Baseline League game.
Two squads trying to dethrone Chino Hills as the CIF Southern Section Open Division champion in March won impressively earlier Saturday night in the event.
Chatsworth Sierra Canyon got a lot of strong performances while improving to 24-1 with its 98-72 beat-down of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.
But none of those efforts was as overwhelming as was junior forward Marvin Bagley III’s while he scored an event-record 43 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Two other potent performances were turned in by two Mater Dei juniors Saturday night, as 7-1 Bol Bol scored 26 points with nine rebounds and five blocked shots while point guard Spencer Freedman added seven points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in the Monarchs’ 74-62 decision over San Diego St. Augustine which pushed them to 26-1.
In the other six games played Saturday:
*Long Beach Poly 72, Orange Lutheran 49: The Jackrabbits (19-6) continued to strengthen their Southern Section Open resume via their domination of a foe from the Trinity League, as senior guard Jeremiah Sadler scored a career-best 26 points (including five of nine attempts from behind the arc).
Senior posts Myles Johnson (13 and 15) and Zafir Williams (11 and 12) combined for 24 points and 27 rebounds for Coach Shelton Diggs’ crew.
Sophomore forward Cade Potter scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Lancers (11-15).
*Santa Margarita 59, Fairfax 51: The Eagles (20-5) knocked off another strong opponent in another step toward strengthening its seed when the Southern Section Open Division playoff bracket is unveiled on Feb. 10.
Seniors Adrease Jackson (11 points and seven rebounds) and Kaden Rasheed (14 points, including three 3s), as well as junior Pearson Parker (11 points and four assists) and sophomore Jake Kyman (13 points and five rebounds), turned is strong efforts for the Eagles.
They’ll play in the same building Tuesday night when they take on the Mater Dei Monarchs in a Trinity League showdown.
The Lions (21-3) can clinch the No. 2 seed in the L.A. City Open Division playoff field by going 3-0 in Western League competition this week, including a win at home to Westchester Friday night.
Junior guard Jamal Hartwell led them with 15 points.
*Corona Centennial 83, Hacienda Heights Los Altos 53: Coach Josh Giles lost one of his top players (UC Davis-bound Gio Nelson via a season-ending knee injury) earlier in the week.
But the Huskies (20-7) got strong contributions from multiple sources, notably UCLA-bound center Jalen Hill (21 points and 17 rebounds and fellow senior Isom Butler (13 points, 10 assists and six rebounds) to overwhelm the Conquerors.
*Los Alamitos 54, Villa Park 48: Six-seven junior Jacob Eyman – who is also an elite volleyball player being heavily recruited most of the powers in that sport – scored 25 points to go with seven rebounds as the Griffins improved to 18-6 while Villa Park dropped to 18-5.
The Griffins, who play host to Huntington Beach Edison Tuesday night with first-place in the Sunset League at stake, held the Spartans to 20 of 61 shooting from the field (.328).
In game in which older brother Myles Franklin struggled with his jump shots (four of 17 from the field and 11 points), sophomore Julien Franklin scored 23 points for the Spartans.
*Bellflower St. John Bosco 81, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley 75 (3OT): Sophomore guard Makani Whiteside scored 30 points, nine of those in the final overtime, as the Braves improved to 15-11 with their second win over the Cougars this season.
The Braves came from 14 points from behind to start the fourth quarter with a pressure defense that disrupted CV’s offensive rhythm forcing multiple turnovers that were turned into transition layups or jump shots.
Junior guard Dawson Baker scored 18 points for the Cougars (20-5) to go with seven rebounds.
*San Juan Capistrano JSerra 73, Goleta Dos Pueblos 51: The Lions were playing without their best player (Princeton-bound forward Sebastian Much/injured left thumb) but still made quick work of the Chargers while improving to 16-8.
Junior center Joel Mensah, who has only been eligible since Jan. 3, scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds while another transfer, Abdul-Malik McClain (who played football and basketball at Santa Margarita earlier this school year before moving south to another Trinity League program), scored eight points with 12 rebounds.
Diego Riker hit four 3s en route to a 14-point performance for Dos Pueblos (19-4).