Worthy inspiration for Rebels

One sign of a complete player is consistently getting it done on both ends of the court.

In the case of the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team, it's got that type of playmaker in senior forward Jared Norsworthy.

Norsworthy, a senior forward, will gladly accept any assignment given to him by Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara. Norsworthy has provided the Rebels with an added dimension in their quest to win the program's first CIF championship.

He's been a steady force throughout the postseason for the top-seeded Rebels, who will meet third-seeded Muir in the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship game at 6 p.m. today at Mater Dei High's Meruelo Athletic Center.

"Defensively, we have asked Jared to do a lot," said Ohara, whose team topped St. Paul, 16th-seeded Whitney, ninth-seeded Blair and fourth-seeded Mission Prep to reach the finals for the first time since the Rebels fell to Verbum Dei, 73-48, in the Division IV-A championship game in 2004 at Loyola Marymount University. "He can guard a point guard or a power forward, and he's got that range to be able to guard four positions on the floor.

"He enjoys playing defense. On offense, he's great at being able to fill the lanes and have that ability to finish with a basket."

The Rebels (22-6) advanced to the championship game Feb. 25 with an 86-72 victory against Mission Prep at La Cañada High. Norsworthy registered 12 points.

In four playoff contests, the 6-2 Norsworthy is averaging 12.5 points per game. On the season, he's shooting 54% from the floor, second-best behind senior center Kenyatta Smith (59%), and averaging 12.2 points per game.

"I've been able to score some big baskets for us, but I definitely like playing defense first," said Norsworthy, who also plays wide receiver and safety on the school's football team and middle blocker on the boys' volleyball team. "With defense, it's something not a lot of people like to do.

"It's something you should strive for. It can give your team an advantage because it creates turnovers, rebounds and making things difficult for other teams in what they want to do."

In a second-round road game against Whitney on Feb. 18, Norsworthy, who transferred from Marshall Fundamental in Pasadena following his sophomore season, rose to the occasion to help the Rebels overcome a sluggish first quarter. He swatted away two shots in the second quarter and one in the second half in the Rebels' 75-46 victory. He collected a personal playoff-best 15 points to help avoid the Rebels from an early round exit.

Norsworthy's contributions appeared to spark the Rebels, who struggled on both sides of the floor in the first quarter before limiting Whitney to just four second-quarter points.

"In that game, he got us going with the blocks and he got our offense going," said Ohara, who piloted the Rebels to a share of the Prep League championship. "He brought the team some energy after we started slow.

"With that energy, he can score in spurts. It's about him being unselfish and putting the team first."

Against visiting Blair in a quarterfinal game Feb. 22, Norsworthy scored the last five points of the first half to give Flintridge Prep a 44-26 lead. Norsworthy's presence was felt when he first blocked a shot, grabbed his own rebound and raced the length of the floor for a layup and the foul. He completed the three-point play before later making a shot from the baseline. The Rebels posted a lopsided 79-57 win against the Vikings.

Flintridge Prep senior Jordan Whaley, a forward, said Norsworthy's performances sometimes don't grab the necessary attention.

"He's been great for us all year, and he definitely gives us that spark," Whaley said. "In the Blair game, he got into some early foul trouble. Then he came back and went on a scoring rampage. He can get those six to eight points quickly.

"His defense is underrated. He can get into the passing lane and get a steal or he can rebound and help out Kenyatta."

Flintridge Prep will likely need a similar effort tonight from Norsworthy against neighbor Muir (18-10). The Mustangs have won their last three games by a combined nine points, including a 66-62 win against 10th-seeded Santa Clara in a semifinal contest.

"We have a lot of positives and it's about making sacrifices in order to win CIF," Norsworthy said. "With each playoff game, our focus has picked up more.

"It's now win or go home, and we certainly don't want to go home."

With a few more blocks, rebounds, steals and points, Norsworthy might be celebrating and hoisting a championship plaque with his teammates.

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