Quick second-half start powers St. Francis basketball past Flintridge Prep

PASADENA — After a close first half, the St. Francis High basketball team turned to Markar Agakanian to lead a quick second-half surge.

Agakanian scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to propel St. Francis to a 55-36 victory against neighbor Flintridge Prep on Tuesday in a Maranatha High summer league contest.

“We knew we had to come out in the second half and be better,” said Agakanian, who helped the Golden Knights advance to the CIF Southern Section Division III-A championship game last season. “My teammates were able to make some good passes so I could run the lanes a little bit more.

PHOTOS: St. Francis powers over Flintridge Prep in summer league contest

“We were able to execute a lot better and we didn’t turn the ball over.”

St. Francis held a 27-23 advantage against Flintridge Prep, which captured the Prep League championship last season. St. Francis then began the second half with an 8-0 run to build a 35-23 lead with 17:43 remaining. The Golden Knights, who tied for fifth in the Mission League before advancing to the second round of the state tournament last season, limited the Rebels to 13 second-half points.

St. Francis co-Coach Ray O’Brien, who, along with Jeff Stephens, was named co-All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year, said the Golden Knights needed a strong start to the second half.

“We were able to make some adjustments after trying to figure out what Flintridge Prep was doing in the first half,” O’Brien said. “We were able to hit a bunch of shots early and we played more physical after Flintridge Prep started out the game being more physical.

“We were able to respond and break out.”

A three-point play by Agakanian gave St. Francis a 40-25 lead with 14:45 left.

St. Francis received 12 points from Michael Ibarra and seven apiece from John Stephens and Brett Gangi. The Golden Knights were without Kyle Leufroy, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year, and John Carroll. Leufroy and Carroll, both starters on last season’s squad, had previous engagements.

Flintridge Prep controlled the tempo through a good portion of the first half before running out of steam in the second half.

A three-point play by Andrew Tsangeos gave the Rebels a 16-14 lead with 9:56 remaining in the opening half. A layup by Miles Johnson made it 20-16 on the Rebels’ next possession.

“We had a good start to the game, but then we gave up some uncontested shots in the second half,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara, who received a team-high 12 points from Tsangeos. “Their run [to start the second half] came in part because we had some poor transition defense and some turnovers.

“St. Francis has a strong, physical team and they began to overwhelm us. It’s a great test for us because we know what we are going up against.”

Johnson and Dante Fregoso contributed eight points each for Flintridge Prep.

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