No LaMelo, no LaVar, no problem: Balls' former team Chino Hills to play for state title

Prep Rally
Chino Hills high school will play for a state championship on Friday while LaMelo Ball plays in Lithuania. (Getty)
Chino Hills high school will play for a state championship on Friday while LaMelo Ball plays in Lithuania. (Getty)

In December, LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball signed to play professional basketball in Lithuania, an unprecedented move orchestrated by their father LaVar that pulled one brother out of UCLA and another out of high school.

The Balls’ pro careers got off to an inauspicious start, but both recently had their contracts guaranteed for the rest of the season.

Back in California, Chino Hills High School was suddenly stripped of its top talent after years of success with Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo, highlighted by a perfect season in 2016 that came with a  state championship and No. 1 national ranking with all three brothers on the roster.

During that run, LaVar was an overwhelming presence and usually a troublesome one. After constant feuding with coaches and putting demands on how the team was run, LaVar eventually pulled LaMelo from the team for home-schooling before the eventual move to Lithuania.

In November, LaMelo took to Twitter to predict bad things for his former teammates in his absence.

At first, LaMelo’s prediction rang true, with Chino Hills getting off to an uncharacteristic 4-6 start to the season. But the Huskies now have a chance at the last laugh on Friday, as they have rallied to play for the California state championship against Walnut Creek’s Las Lomas High School.

They earned their way in via a 67-51 win over St. John Bosco in the Southern California Division I regional final on Saturday. 

“Everybody doubted us with LaMelo leaving,” Ofure Ujadughele, who scored 20 points in the win, told the Los Angeles Times. “No one believed in us. We proved them wrong.”

Interestingly enough, the leading scorer in the game was Andre Ball, cousin of the famous Ball brothers, who scored 32 points.

We wonder if LaMelo will still be laughing at his cousin if he wins a state championship on Friday.

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