LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Stopping Silas Gaines, Webb Schools’ premiere point guard, was the game plan of the Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball team coming into Friday night’s game.
The Rebels didn’t do a good enough job trapping Gaines, forcing the ball out of his hands and then denying passes back to him, as ordered by their coach Garrett Ohara in the first quarter. It showed with Prep taking an eight-point lead into the second quarter.
Flintridge Prep increased that lead to 16 by halftime after finally carrying Ohara’s instructions, en route to a 69-50 Prep League-opening victory at home.
“You talk about it before the game and it didn’t really get a lot of buy in,” Ohara said. “Once they saw what was happening and how much of a threat Silas was it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe we should have adhered to that a little bit better.’ To their credit they did and that’s when we shut them down a little bit.”
It was the Rebels’ defense on Gaines, height and 52-25 rebound advantage, along with a deep, balanced offense that led to the lopsided win. Three players — Tyler Weakland (17 points), Robert Cartwright (13 points) and Kareem Ismail (11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) — were double-digit scorers in the win, with Chadd Cosse also logging eight points and eight boards.
Weakland said it was corralling Gaines that was key on Friday.
“We knew this was an important game, first league game and we were trying to do too many things, I think,” he said of the first quarter. “Once we settled down we handled things better and were able to guard [Silas better], things picked up from there.”
The Gauls trailed, 23-15, after the first quarter, but saw the game get out of hand in the second when the Rebels forced six turnovers after turning up the pressure on Gaines.
Flintridge Prep (8-5) opened the quarter with a 12-0 run with five different players scoring in that span. Webb (9-5, 0-2 in league) managed to keep the game within 16, 39-23, with Gaines hitting a corner jumper with 10 seconds to go and the Gauls’ Erik Chu (12 points) draining a three-pointer before the buzzer.
Webb had trouble cutting into the lead at all from there with Gaines keeping his team within 13, 49-36, with 2:48 to go in the third quarter when he pocketed a fade-away jumper.
Prep closed the third with a 9-0 run to pull away from there. Cartwright got it started with a jumper of his own with 2:05 to go and Weakland finished it off, scoring the Rebels’ next seven points.
“I think I am the sixth man,” Weakland said, “but I’m just trying to do whatever it takes for the team to do well — rebound, defense, shooting.”
Weakland did that, pulling down seven rebounds to go with his team-high scoring that included three three-pointers.
Weakland scored the final points of the third on a putback, three-pointer and pair of free throws to give the home team a 58-36 lead going into the final frame, which allowed Ohara to clear his bench.
Despite all the attention, Gaines still managed to finish with a game-high 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Still, Ohara liked what he saw from his team’s defense overall.
“We were able to focus on their really good player,” Ohara said. “He hurt us last year, he’s tremendously quick and we just tried to get the ball out of his hands as best as we could and see if some other guys would step up for them.
“I am proud of our defense tonight.”