St. Francis basketball knocks off Flintridge Prep in overtime

LA CANADA — His coach said his team has a friendly rivalry against Flintridge Prep.

St. Francis High forward Markar Agakanian said his teammates see their games against the Rebels as intense contests.

The Golden Knights and Rebels did not have much at stake in Friday’s summer league game at Flintridge Prep. No league titles. No playoff berths. No season-ending scenarios. Just a summer league game.

But both teams were intense, playing a physical game that saw the Golden Knights take an early lead, lose that advantage, and then hit key shots to force overtime, where Agakanian scored all four of his team’s points.

Agakanian followed two of his misses with a putback underneath the basket and hit a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to lift St. Francis to a 60-56 victory.

“That was pretty much determination,” said Agakanian, who finished with 15 points. “Coach was getting on me for not crashing the boards. My mentality was to crash the boards. I saw the opportunity and I didn’t give up.”

Golden Knight co-Coach Ray O’Brien had been pleading with Agakanian to get a rebound in the second half, when the Rebels used a 17-1 run to take a 46-37 lead with seven minutes remaining.

“Markar has been out of town for a while, and he’s struggled,” O’Brien said. “He’s a great athlete. When he puts his mind to it and stops reacting to the game and starts anticipating, he’s very difficult to stop. You see the body on him. He just has to use it properly.”

Thanks to Agakanian, Noah Willerford and Dylan Crawford, the Golden Knights started the game with an 8-2 lead, as the Rebels didn’t make a basket until Kyle Hamane — who finished with 10 points — made a basket six minutes into the first half.

Willerford had eight of his team-high 20 points in the opening half. Crawford limited Rebels standout guard Robert Cartwright to three made field goals in the first half. Cartwright finished with a game-high 27 points, but needed 23 shots and 12 free throws to get there.

“I play on a travel team with him and I practice against him,” said Crawford, who finished with seven points. “You can’t really stop him. You have to try to slow him down. We were trying to make him shoot some outside shots.”

Cartwright, who scored 11 of his points from the free-throw line, played all 38 minutes.

“He’s going to shoot the ball better,” Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. “He was doing a good job of getting to the basket. These guys haven’t played with him. Robert hasn’t been with us that much. I’m sure he feels the burden of maybe he needs to score. He’s not forcing anything. He’s such an unselfish player.”

Cartwright’s best minutes were during a five-minute stretch in the second half, when he scored eight of his team’s 17 points during its run.

“We’re proud of how we fought and competed,” Ohara said. “Runs are going to happen all the time. You need to maintain that and not let it get all the way back.”

The Golden Knights responded with a run of their own and the teams traded clutch shots in the final minute of regulation, including three-pointers by Flintridge Prep’s Chris Brummett and Willerford’s three-pointer tied the game.

After Cartwright missed a three-pointer that would’ve given the Rebels a lead, Crawford sank a jumper as the buzzer sounded. One referee signaled the basket was good. After a referee conference, the basket was waved off, setting up a two-minute overtime.

“It was absolutely after the basket,” said O’Brien, who protested the ruling for a few seconds before heading back to the bench with his team. “I still liked the first call. Now that we won it, I’m happy that we won it legitimately.”

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