Reserves lead St. Francis High basketball past Flintridge Prep

LA CAÑADA — For the first several weeks of the summer season, the St. Francis High basketball team has had to shuffle its lineup.

With several starters from last season’s historic team attending to previous commitments, that’s allowed the Golden Knights to look at some of their other options and determine if the reserves might have a shot at making the team next season. St. Francis junior point guard John Stephens is among the candidates looking to get a crack at some playing time.

Stephens enjoyed a nice effort Friday night, as he finished with 13 points and eight rebounds to power St. Francis to a 55-39 win against Flintridge Prep in a Flintridge Prep Tournament contest.

“It’s just about getting some playing time and trying to make the most of your opportunities throughout the summer,” said Stephens, whose father, Jeff, is a co-coach at St. Francis. “You try to make sure everything is clicking and see what you can do.

“A lot of us are trying to make the most of any chance we get.”

St. Francis, which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III-A championship game for the first time and the state tournament last season, competed without normal starters Kyle Leufroy, John Carroll and Michael Allen on Friday. The Golden Knights received a balanced scoring attack, getting 11 points from Cole Kenyon, nine points and six rebounds from Michael Ibarra and nine points from Kyle Cheung.

St. Francis co-Coach Ray O’Brien, whose team played a tournament game against Maranatha later Friday, said the Golden Knights clicked throughout the 32-minute game.

“This crew has played a lot together throughout the summer,” said O’Brien, whose team held a 25-21 halftime advantage. “They seem to be getting more confident with each game played and that’s a good sign.

“They moved the ball around well and they all relied on each other instead of just one person. That’s our goal. That’s probably the best game we’ve played in the summer.”

St. Francis went on an 8-0 run early in the second half to pull away from Flintridge Prep, which captured the Prep League championship last season.

Cheung made a three-pointer to give the Golden Knights a 32-23 lead with 13:01 left in the second half. Stephens then scored two straight baskets to highlight the run and provide St. Francis with a 35-23 lead.

Stephens made a three-pointer to make it 45-31 with 5:50 to play.

Andrew Tsangeos paced Flintridge Prep with 15 points and 12 rebounds and teammate Kendall Kikkawa added seven points.

Tsangeos made a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded at halftime to pull Flintridge Prep to within 25-21.

Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara, whose team earlier picked up a 65-53 win against Providence, said the Rebels became fatigued in the second half against St. Francis.

“It was our second game and St. Francis’ first,” Ohara said. “We did our best to stay with them in the second half.

“I told our players after the game that it’s great when you play a team like St. Francis because you get to see a lot of different things like man-to-man coverage. It’s why you play teams like that. I thought Andrew was very strong in both games.”

St. Francis and Flintridge Prep will wrap up the two-day tournament with each competing in a pair of games Saturday. St. Francis will meet La Cañada at 12:20 p.m. and Providence at 2:40. Flintridge Prep will face La Cañada at 10 a.m. and Maranatha at 1:30 p.m.


Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World