LA CRESCENTA — It's well known that winning the turnover battle in basketball usually leads to winning on the scoreboard.
The Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team proved it against South Pasadena Friday in the fifth-place game of the Falcon Classic Tournament. The Tigers committed 23 turnovers, while the Rebels had just 10, leading them to a 66-46 victory at Crescenta Valley High.
South Pasadena (2-3) was in the game in the first quarter, where it only turned the ball over three more times than Prep. The Rebels (3-2) separated themselves in the second, when the Tigers turned it over six times and Prep was guilty of just one.
"I thought we did a better job of making good decisions and finding open shots," Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. "It's much easier to score in transition than in a half-court set."
Tigers Coach Timothy Brown said it's just going to take his team some more practice to establish a rhythm.
"We have a nice group of guys and I think we will be fine, just a little more work is all," Brown said. "We also need to be a little more patient on offense. We get a little trigger happy from behind the arc, and you know what they say, 'Live by the three, die by the three.'"
South Pas' Harry Yadav had a game-high 17 points. Tigers center Darren Wong had a game-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
"I would love to get our big men involved more," Brown said. "They are young, but a little more work in the post would help us establish a better inside-out game."
Jedrick Eugenio and Robert Cartwright were key to Prep winning by a sizable margin. Eugenio and Cartwright both finished the game with 15 points and four and five steals, respectively.
"The first two games we took care off the ball terribly," Eugenio said. "Now our concentration is taking care of the ball and forcing turnovers on defense. Our defense will be key for us all year."
The duo combined for 16 points and five steals in the first half, but South Pas hung around early. The Rebels took a 6-0 lead to start the game, but the Tigers came back to tie it at 14 by the end of the first quarter.
Six Tigers turnovers in the second allowed the Rebels to build a 12-point advantage by halftime, though. With the game tied at 18 early in the second, Eugenio knocked down a three-pointer and Cartwright pushed the lead to 23-18 after grabbing a steal and converting an easy layup on the ensuing South Pas possession.
Two plays later, Eugenio followed up another Tigers turnover with a wide-open jumper. South Pas' Eren Cameron then hit a three to cut Prep's lead to 27-21, but Eugenio answered right back with a three of his own. Cartwright gave the Rebels a 35-23 edge at halftime by hitting a three with about 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
The pair then combined to score Prep's first 14 points of the third quarter, as the lead swelled to 49-31 on a layup from Cartwright late in the third, earning the Rebels' starters the rest of the night off, as the bench closed out the third and entire fourth quarter.
"We played pretty solid defense, got easy layups and open shots," Cartwright said. "That's what we want. We don't want to take tough, contested shots. It's a good way to end the tournament."