Rebels' run reaches finals

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — In Kenyatta Smith, the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team has a player dynamic enough to put an entire squad on his back.

But in Friday night's CIF Southern Section Division 5-AA quarterfinal game at La Cañada High, the rest of the Rebels showed they're more than capable of doing some heavy lifting as well.

Aiming for their first CIF finals berth since 2004, the Rebels took a double-digit lead over Mission Prep in a first half that saw Smith convert just two field goals in as many attempts. Smith would join the party in force in the third period en route to compiling a final line of 19 points and 15 rebounds, as the Rebels sped to an 86-72 win made closer only by a shaky fourth quarter from the Rebels reserves.

Jedrick Eugenio had 18 points, Kory Hamane added 16 and Robert Cartwright and Jared Norsworthy finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Flintridge Prep, which will meet Muir in the finals next week at a time and date to be determined.

"Everybody came out on fire, shot for shot," Smith said. "Nobody was missing, everybody was in their rhythm. We developed a huge early lead and tried to carry that out until the end."

Eugenio set the pace for Flintridge Prep by knocking down his first three shots from three-point range, the third of which gave the Rebels a 13-8 lead with 4:00 left in the opening quarter.

"He's playing with confidence," Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara said of Eugenio, who had 11 first-quarter points. "On this big stage, he's ready to play and he's done that this whole playoff run."

Norsworthy, who sparked the top-seeded Rebels (22-6) with seven first-quarter points, made a nice reverse layup to put Flintridge Prep up, 24-14, after one quarter.

The Rebels' scoring stalled a bit to begin the second quarter, but by holding fourth-seeded Mission Prep (18-11) scoreless for the first 3:30 of the period, they were able to keep the lead steady and push it to 14 points by halftime.

Smith owned the third period with 10 points and seven rebounds, as the Rebels exploded for 28 points altogether in the quarter and pushed the lead to 65-38.

"In the first half, the game was more perimeter-oriented, I guess, a faster pace, come down and knock down a jump shot or whatever," Smith said. "Second half, they were able to start feeding the ball into the post and I was able to do what I do."

Said Ohara of Smith: "He had a phenomenal game inside and when he didn't get the ball, guys were hitting their shots outside. That makes it very balanced and makes it hard to key on him inside and when he's guarded single coverage, you're pretty much at his mercy."

Hamane also had a big third period, scoring nine points on three three-pointers, and Eugenio added another three at the quarter buzzer.

"I was feeling it and I know Jedrick was feeling it," Hamane said. "That's just what we needed, someone to step up other than Kenyatta because he's always doing well.

"If we keep doing that we're going to go far."

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