Alijah Arenas sets record with 44 points as Chatsworth loses to Monterey in CIF state basketball final

Taj Unuakhalu #21 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

SACRAMENTO — Chatsworth’s boys basketball team arrived at Golden 1 Center on Saturday with its gifted sophomore and a chance to end the L.A. City Section’s drought in the CIF State championships.

Alijah Arenas responded with a record-setting performance but an opponent dubbed the “Road Warriors” had other plans.

Monterey used a strong start and excellent shooting to collect a 74-66 victory in the Division IV final despite 44 points from Arenas.

The son of former NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas set the record for points in a Division IV final and is second all-time overall to Tracy Murray of Glendora, who netted 64 points in a loss in the Division II championship in 1989.

Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas talks with his son Alijah Arenas of Chatsworth at halftime against Monterey during a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth shoots against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Taj Unuakhalu #21 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nasir Jones #13 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth fights for the ball against Jamar Aquino#23 of Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Taj Unuakhalu #21 of Chatsworth reaches for the rebound against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth prepares to shoot a free throw against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas watches his son Alijah Arenas (not pictured) of Chatsworth play against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Salomon Torres #23 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Taj Unuakhalu #21 of Chatsworth reaches for the loose ball against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth reaches for the rebound against Julian Rodriguez Johnson #3 of Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth shoots against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Jamar Aquino#23 of Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Dax Grooms of Chatsworth reacts against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth slam dunks against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth prepares to shoot a free throw against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Aaron Krueger #34 of Chatsworth misses a layup against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Taj Unuakhalu #21 of Chatsworth drives to the basket against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Salomon Torres #23 of Chatsworth shoots against Monterey in the first half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Alijah Arenas #0 of Chatsworth slam dunks against Monterey in the second half of a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Nasir Jones of Chatsworth deject as Monterey defeated Chatsworth 74-66 to win a CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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Arenas hugged his father after the game and fought back tears in the postgame press conference.

“I’m very grateful,” said Arenas, who broke the Division IV scoring record of 35 set by Shon Tarver of Oxnard Santa Clara in 1990. “I’m very blessed to be in this situation. It felt good knowing I did something (historic). I wish I could have got the win and I could have … done better for my teammates.”

The 6-foot-4 Arenas shook off a slow start and several double teams to make 17 of 32 field goals, including 2 of 6 3-point attempts. He also grabbed eight rebounds to lead Chatsworth (20-15), which appeared in its first state final.

The Chancellors also received eight points, 19 rebounds and nine blocks from junior post Taj Unuakhalu, nine points on three 3-pointers from freshman guard TJ Phillips and six assists from junior guard Salomon Torres.

Chatsworth was one of a record three L.A. City Section teams to reach the state finals this weekend. The Granada Hills Charter girls and Verdugo Hills boys were the other two teams.

The Chancellors were trying to become the first L.A. City Section boys team to win a state title since View Park in 2018.

They challenged for history one season after finishing 9-21 in 2022-23.

“It actually feels good to see them showing emotion … because it means it meant something to them,” Chatsworth coach Dax Groom said of his team’s postgame mood. “We grew a lot over the last year. … We’ve been through a lot with our team, and to be here is a blessing in itself.”

Chatsworth struggled shooting early. The Chancellors made only 2 of 10 shots in the first quarter and fell behind 16-10. Arenas went 1 for 6 from the floor in the opening frame.

The Chancellors chased the rest of the way against Monterey (25-6), dubbed the “Road Warriors” because they won four times on the road in the CIF NorCal region playoffs as the No. 14 seed.

A follow-up tip by Arenas cut Monterey’s lead to 21-20 in the middle of the second quarter but Monterey countered with a 7-0 run. Kavon Collins of Monterey, who like Arenas wore jersey No. 0, highlighted the surge with a pullup 3-pointer.

Collins, also a football standout, finished with 22 points to lead Monterey to its first state title.

Arenas spoke to his father during halftime and it seemed to help. He made 7 of 9 shots in the third en route to 15 points.

Arenas opened the period with a baseline jumper to trim the deficit to 34-31 but Monterey had the answers. Brothers Joshua (19 points) and Ryan Roth (18 points) supported Collins with the scoring.

Joshua Roth made five of Monterey’s eight 3-pointers. Ryan Roth sank 8 of 9 foul shots to help Monterey sink 20 of 28 in the game.

Arenas scored 13 more points in the fourth quarter and thanked his father for his support.

“He’s really helpful,” he said. “He’s not really too much in my ear. He wants me to play my game. He’s doesn’t argue. He just kind of guides me in the right way to go.”

And on Saturday, the path led to a state record.

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