LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — After stealing a win in Pasadena Poly's house in January, it was the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team's turn to simmer as a Panthers celebration broke out in the middle of their gymnasium on Friday night.
And while turnabout is fair play in just the latest chapter of the long-running rivalry, the Rebels' 61-58 Prep League loss had to hurt just a little bit more, considering it came in overtime after Prep had blown an eight-point lead in the last 1:12 of the fourth period.
Jared Norsworthy's tip-in plus a foul that put Prep up by six with 1:32 left in regulation was the last field goal the Rebels would make, as they scored just one point in overtime on one-of-five shooting from the foul stripe.
"All the momentum was theirs [going into overtime]," said Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara, whose team (16-5, 5-1 in league) suffered its first loss in league and is now tied for first place with Poly (19-2, 5-1). "They think they're almost dead and have a resurrection.
"We started off sound early in the overtime period, too. They only scored four [points] in that overtime, they only made one field goal too, so I think our defense was OK."
Prep's defense wasn't the problem on the Panthers' final possessions of the fourth quarter so much as defensive rebounding was.
Panther Daniel Wohl's three-point attempt to tie the game as the clock ticked under 10 seconds hit the front of the rim, but Hunter Merryman (14 points) was there to corral the rebound. He dribbled it back out beyond the three-point line, but, facing a defensive swarm, thought better of taking a shot and swung the ball back to Wohl (26 points), who hit nothing but net from beyond the arc on his second attempt at the buzzer.
It was the third three-point play converted by the Panthers in the final 35 seconds of regulation. Wohl was hacked while making a short jumper to bring Poly to within 54-51 and Merryman came up with another huge offensive board with 20 seconds remaining and his follow-up attempt while being fouled went down after a couple of fortuitous bounces on the rim.
"Those are things you expect in the Poly-Flintridge game," said Ohara, whose team won, 57-49, at Poly on Jan. 15. "They got some good breaks there at the end and maybe we cruised a little bit."
Kenyatta Smith, who led the Rebels with 16 points and 17 rebounds, missed a pair from the line to begin overtime and Poly then went on a 4-0 run, which would be all it needed to secure the win.
Robert Cartwright, who scored all of his eight points in the fourth quarter and hit some big shots to help the Rebels pull away in the fourth, missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 20 seconds left and the rebound ended up in a jump ball that went to Poly. The Rebels had the ball last, still down three, but in a sequence that underscored their frustration in overtime, Kory Hamane (14 points) misfired on a three from the corner and Smith's follow dunk attempt popped out.