GLENDALE - Less than 24 hours removed from the greatest victory in the history of its program, the Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball team was assured its finest season wouldn’t be coming to a close.
On Sunday, the Rebels were bestowed the No. 2 seed in the Southern California bracket of the 2011 CIF State Boys’ Division V Basketball Championships. Prep (23-6) will play host on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to Tranquility (6-21) of the Central Section.
“The Southern Section versus the Central Section has traditionally been rather lopsided for the Southern Section and we hope to continue that tradition,” said Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara, whose team defeated Muir, 47-44, on Saturday night to claim the Southern Section Division V-AA title, its first in program history. “Being a high seed as we are, it’s nice to get an easier team and that we get to play at home. Those are big factors.”
The top seed in the Southern California bracket is Sierra Canyon (25-5), which won the Southern Section Division V-A championship, defeating Montclair Prep (23-9), the SoCal No. 3 seed.
Riding a six-game winning streak and the high of an unprecedented CIF championship, Ohara said its natural to worry about his team being able to match the level of play previously achieved in vying for the title.
“That’s something we were talking about as coaches [on Saturday],” said Ohara, whose team has been led all season by Harvard-bound center Kenyatta Smith and complemented by a stellar supporting cast that includes the likes of Jared Norsworthy, Kory Hamane, Robert Cartwright and Jedrick Eugenio. “It’s a natural tendency.”
Ohara believes added incentive, however, lies not just in the quest for a CIF state title, but also avenging earlier losses in the season to the aforementioned Sierra Canyon and Montclair Prep.
“I think our team’s gonna be up for a challenge,” Ohara said. “They have a lot of pride. [Beating the teams that beat us will] be our motivation.”
Tranquility, despite its subpar record, was the runner-up in the Center Section’s Division V playoffs. Should the Rebels advance past the Tigers, they would face either the Southern Section’s St. Bernard (22-8) or host Redlands Adventist Academy (21-7), also from the Southern Section. Redlands is the seventh seed and won the Division VI-A champion, while St. Bernard is the 10th seed and lost in the V-A semifinals to Montclair Prep.
“If we win, it looks like we’d probably face St. Bernard,” Ohara said. “They’re a very good, athletic team, which would be a great matchup.”
The No. 1 seed in the Northern bracket is St. Joseph Notre Dame (23-8) of the North Coast Section and the No. 2 is Pinewood (22-5) of the Central Coast Section.
The Southern California finals will be held March 19 at Colony High School, with the state finals on March 25 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento.
No matter what, it’s clear that the Rebels’ roller-coaster ride of a historic season is still going full speed ahead.
Said Ohara: “Here we go.”