CERRITOS — For the first quarter, the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team looked like anything but a top seed.
In the opening quarter of their CIF Southern Section Division V-AA second-round game against host Whitney on Friday night, the Rebels struggled with their shooting and defense. Then, with the help of their noisy fans, many of whom arrived late after braving the wet freeways to make the 35-mile journey, the Rebels regrouped and kept their season alive.
Behind 18 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks from senior center Kenyatta Smith, Flintridge Prep picked up a 75-46 victory against 16th-seeded Whitney.
Flintridge Prep (20-6) will meet visiting Blair in quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Ninth-seeded Blair posted a 73-65 road win against ninth-seeded Crossroads on Friday.
Flintridge Prep made only four of 11 shots in the opening quarter and struggled defensively. With its fans now standing in the bleachers — a customary trademark at Flintridge Prep home games — Flintridge Prep found and made itself at home.
"I think that was a part of us being able to come back," said Smith, whose team held Whitney (17-12) to four second-quarter points. "The crowd came in and that seemed to give us a lot of energy.
"I think that helped us pick it up on defense in the second half."
The Mustangs, who finished third in the Academy League, proved to be a force in the first quarter. Whitney held a 15-8 lead with 2:27 left, forcing Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara to call timeout.
Shortly thereafter, the Rebels showed why they are the top seed and co-champions of the Prep League. The Mustangs were held scoreless from late in the first quarter until 1:08 was remaining in the second quarter. Flintridge Prep held a 33-23 halftime advantage.
""We did a lot of things uncharacteristically early on both ends of the floor," Ohara said. "I don't know what our mental approach was in the beginning of the game.
"It's a playoff game on the road. We picked it up defensively in the second quarter. We knew that we had to turn things around."
Flintridge Prep, which opened the playoffs Wednesday with a 77-41 home win against St. Paul, got 18 points from sophomore guard Jedrick Eugenio and 15 points and three blocks from senior forward Jared Norsworthy.
Ohara said the Rebels were able to establish an inside presence throughout the second half.
"We killed them on points in the paint and off turnovers," Ohara said.
Whitney, which picked up a 60-55 opening-round win against visiting Linfield Christian, received 14 points from senior guard Ted Kim and 13 from junior forward Greg Amalu.