WOODLAND HILLS — It’s becoming apparent that matchups between the Flintridge Prep and Campbell Hall boys’ basketball teams are becoming annual classics.
Accordingly, both squads took Saturday afternoon’s nonleague contest at the San Fernando Valley Hoops Showdown down to the final two possessions before the Vikings earned a measure of revenge from last season by virtue of a 66-61 victory.
“I thought we defended well and had them on their heels and Campbell Hall made some big shots,” Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara said. “When you have a slow start, it’s tough to come back.”
Despite trailing big early and contending with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds from Vikings super sophomore Aaron Holiday, Flintridge Prep was within two possessions late in the fourth.
The Rebels (7-5) trailed by four when the Vikings (10-3), ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division IV-A, took their biggest lead of the fourth quarter on a jumper from sophomore guard Simplis Kahlil (21 points) with 55 seconds to go to take a 64-58 advantage.
Down two possessions, the Rebels climbed back to within three points when junior guard Robert Cartwright delivered the final three of his team-high 27 points on a triple with 47.3 seconds left that brought Flintridge Prep within 64-61.
Choosing not to foul, the Rebels defended the Vikings and picked up a critical missed jumper from Jared Harper with eight seconds left.
The missed field goal rimmed out to Cartwright, who pushed the ball up court and then had his potential game-tying three-pointer bounce off the back of the iron and rebounded by Campbell Hall’s Colin Bell, who quickly fed Kahlil.
Campbell Hall’s guard was fouled by Kareem Ismail (15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks) with 2.7 seconds left and he drained both free throws of a double bonus to ice the game.
“We played these guys last year and they beat us by one, so I expected this type of game,” said Holiday, whose 29 points came on 11-for-22 shooting from the court and seven-for-17 from the free-throw line. “I just remember from last year, how they beat us [61-60 at the Providence Showcase] on a last-second shot.”
A potential game-winning shot seemed a long shot early on, as the Rebels trailed by 15 points midway through the first and eventually ended the first quarter down, 20-7.
Yet, the Rebels won the second quarter, 18-14, to pull to within single digits at the half and then made their run in the third quarter.
Flintridge Prep trailed, 40-31, with 4:04 left in the third after an offensive put-back from Holiday when the Rebels embarked on a 15-2 run over the next three and half minutes, capped on a slashing layup from Jedrick Eugenio off an assist from Cartwright with 32.7 seconds left that put the Rebels ahead, 46-42.
The most heated action during the Rebels’ surge came with 54.1 seconds left when Cartwright picked Holiday’s pocket on a second straight possession, but missed a subsequent three-point try.
Holiday grabbed the loose ball and sprinted down court when was fouled by Kyle Hamane, who was called for an intentional foul.
Holiday wasn’t particularly pleased with the foul and took the loose ball and threw it in the direction of Hamane, which earned Holiday a technical foul.
“Hey, you have two good programs, two highly-regarded programs going at it and sometimes those things happen,” Ohara said.
The Rebels led, 46-44, entering the fourth quarter, but surrendered the first six points of the stanza, all to Holiday, and never regained their advantage.
“It was pretty fun going against a future college star or maybe NBA star,” Cartwright said. “I had been waiting for this the whole week and I think it was a great experience for everyone.”