Because he’s coaching the shortest Long Beach Poly boys’ basketball team in a half-century, Jackrabbits coach Shelton Diggs has had to make some decisions these playoffs. When they’re playing teams with talented bigs, as they did Friday night against Chino Hills in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals, Diggs’ team has to double-team opponents.
That means leaving someone open—preferably someone who can’t knock down a jumper. Unfortunately for Diggs and his squad, nobody from the Huskies could miss, and Chino Hills topped Poly to advance to next week’s championship.
“They didn’t miss anything, they made every shot,” said Diggs. “We have to double when their big guys get it, we don’t have a choice about that.”
Darryl Polk (17 points) helped power Poly to a first quarter that saw the teams end in a 17-17 deadlock. Polk made layup after layup over the outstretched arms of Onyeka Okoingwu.
The Huskies fed Okoingwu (23 points) steadily in the second quarter and they pulled away for an eight-point halftime lead.
Poly was doomed by a sluggish start to the third quarter, as their activity on defense declined and Chino Hills’ Andre Ball took advantage, beating them downcourt a few times for dunks but also stepping into rhythm jumpers en route to a game-high 37 points.
Poly battled back and got the lead down to 10, but Ball answered every big run with a big shot of his own.
Jesse Galloway had 19 points for Poly and Malik Salahuddin led the Jackrabbits in scoring in the second half and finished with 25 points.
Poly has qualified for the state playoffs and will await next Sunday’s CIF State bracket draw.