GLENDALE — Before the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team could enter the CIF Southern Section Division 5-AA playoffs as the No. 1 seed, en route to becoming an eventual CIF champion — it had to take care of business in the Prep League.
Defending its league title was a major point on a list of ambitious accomplishments the Rebels (24-7) strived to fulfill this season and they were successful, posting a 7-1 mark and clinching a co-championship.
As a result, Prep's entire starting lineup was represented in the coaches' all-league voting, with senior center Kenyatta Smith leading the way with a Prep League co–Most Valuable Player nod.
"I was just very grateful and feel like a lot of the hard work me and my team put in in league really paid off," said Smith, who shared the co-MVP award with Daniel Wohl of co-champion Pasadena Poly. "It just felt like such a blessing.
"It definitely is a validation to be co-MVP of the league — it's something really phenomenal."
Averaging 19.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per game on the season, Smith was a dominant force in league, in both blowout wins and critical nailbiters. He averaged 15 points and 18 rebounds in two meetings with archrival Poly, which the Rebels split.
"He was dominant defensively and scoring at a high rate offensively," Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said of Smith, who also recorded 124 blocked shots on the season. "I thought he was the best player and for us to split with Poly, as good as they were, it's good to get Daniel recognized, as well."
Junior guard Kory Hamane became the senior member of a backcourt that lost a pair of four-year varsity starters to graduation and made sure the Rebels didn't suffer a drop-off by averaging 12.2 points per game with four assists and 2.4 rebounds a night, as well. Hamane, who also led the team with 54 steals and 117 three-pointers made, was honored with a first-team selection.
"Kory really stepped in and became a lead guard for us this year," Ohara said. "He really stepped up his scoring and was really unselfish with the ball."
Prep also landed three players on the second team in senior forward Jared Norsworthy, sophomore forward Jedrick Eugenio and freshman guard Robert Cartwright.
Their numbers probably aren't gaudy, but they earned that recognition with their team play, their unselfishness," Ohara said of the second-team trio. "Any of those guys could score double figures and any one of them could be our leading scorer any given night."
Norsworthy, one of the Rebels' best defenders, averaged 12.3 points, 2.3 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
Eugenio developed into a dangerous perimeter threat and was known for hitting big shots. He averaged nine points per game.
Cartwright was a solid ballhandler and backcourt leader, averaging 12 points, 3.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.
"I'm very proud of everybody who stepped up and did more than their part," Smith said. "We had a great season, everybody put in a lot of hard work and did everything they were supposed to."