LA CRESCENTA — A furious finish proved to be the best way to rally around an injured teammate for the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team in its final pool-play game of the Crescenta Valley Falcon Classic.
Although they controlled the intra-city showdown with St. Francis from the second quarter on, it wasn't until freshman guard Kyle Hamane was knocked to the floor and out of the game by an inadvertent elbow early in the fourth quarter that the Rebels really hit the gas and left the Golden Knights in the dust for a 72-54 victory.
"At some point it was just like a little drive of motivation for us," said Rebels center Kenyatta Smith, who scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds, of the play that resulted in a cut lip for the shaken-up Hamane. "Our guy was out, we felt like we should have gotten the call, we didn't, so we just went hard after that. We wanted to give it all we could and finish it off strong."
St. Francis, which never recovered from a 10-0 Rebels run to begin the second period, couldn't survive a dismal 28% shooting night, in which its top two marksmen, guards Zack Gardea and Emerson Castaneda, went a combined three for 19 from the field.
But with 6:18 left in the fourth period, the Golden Knights, who had trailed by as may as 16, were back within 52-42 on a three-pointer by Ben Maynard (12 points). On the same play, Hamane was clipped in the mouth by an elbow, which was not called a foul, and remained on the ground for several minutes for the duration of the possession and after the whistle while being tended to by trainers.
"You could see that as a place [in the game] to come out flat," Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara said. "[There was] a long delay and I think our guys focused right away and gained momentum after that."
Kory Hamane, Kyle's brother, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, led the charge when play resumed, racing for a layup off a steal, then finding Smith for a slam dunk on a fast break after coming up with another takeaway. Moments later, yet another St. Francis turnover led to another fast-break finish for Kory Hamane, who gave the Rebels a commanding 61-42 lead with 4:20 left in the game.
Prep (3-2), which also got 14 points from Robert Cartwright and 10 points from Jedrick Eugenio, will play either Crescenta Valley or Antelope Valley at 6:15 p.m. Friday for third place.
St. Francis (2-2), which was led by 13 points from Sevan Zarifian, will be face an opponent to be determined at 4:45 Friday.
"I think Prep came out with a little more energy and effort than us and that's disappointing because in our first two games we were very pleased with the energy and effort," Golden Knights co-Coach Ray O'Brien said. "A lot of our effort seems to be tied into how well we shoot the ball and you can't be that way. We're an outside shooting team, we weren't hitting and they were. But we talked to the kids and they have to learn that the defensive end can't be influenced by the offensive end.
"We let it get away from us a little bit and couldn't really get back into it."