Flintridge Prep boys' basketball finds going tough in loss to Minutemen

LA CAÑADA — If injuries weren't enough of an issue for the short-handed Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team, then the size of visiting Maranatha certainly proved a hurdle too tall to climb.

The new-look Minutemen, under the direction of former longtime Pasadena High Coach Tim Tucker, leaned on 6-foot-9 center Muusa Dama, 6-6 power forward Ron Gore and 6-5 small forward Nick Springer to outreach and outrebound the Rebels en route to a 74-50 nonleague victory Friday evening.

"They obviously have a great advantage inside and we fought and we battled and we stayed close in the first half," Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara said. "But then Nick came back from foul trouble and they built a lead and we couldn't stay close."

The Minutemen (6-8) led, 36-27, at the half and immediately took a double digit advantage on an inside basket from Gore (16 points and 14 rebounds) to go up 11.

Flintridge Prep (3-7) countered on its next possession with a three-pointer from Scott Tsangeos off a kick-out assist from Andrew Tsangeos to close within eight.

The deficit remained at eight until the Minutemen broke open a 40-32 advantage with a 15-0 run started on back-to-back three-pointers from Springer.

The senior transfer from Crescenta Valley High played minimal minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls by the 7:42 mark in the second quarter.

Yet, Springer made an instant impact in scoring six points and then picking off a pass and leading a fast break that resulted in a layup from Teuie Williams (nine points) with 5:19 left that gave the Minutemen a 49-32 advantage.

"Coach wasn't happy with our effort in the first half, especially our defense," said Springer, who finished with nine points and three assists and was playing with an injured thumb. "He threatened us with a 9 a.m. practice [Saturday], so we responded and played the way we should have been playing."

Maranatha's lead eventually hit 55-32 with 4:04 remaining before the Rebels broke the streak with a jumper from Scott Tsangeos (10 points) off another assist from Andrew Tsangeos (nine points) with 2:19 left, which also snapped a Rebels' 4:01 scoring drought.

Eventually, the Rebels trailed 60-37 after three quarters.

Perhaps it's fair to say Flintridge Prep made its last stand early in the fourth as the home team scored the period's first six points capped on a layup from Stefan Smith off an assist from Scott Tsangeos, which brought the Rebels within 61-42 with 6:57 remaining.

Yet, just as Springer stirred the Minutemen to life in the third, the senior may have quashed the Rebels' momentum when he connected on a three-pointer with 6:30 left.

The triple commenced another Minutemen spurt as Maranatha scored the next eight points, including on a thunderous dunk from Gore on an offensive rebound, to put the game out of reach.

"We knew Flintridge Prep was playing without two starters and its best player in Robert Cartwright, who is probably the best player in the area," Tucker said. "So, the game shouldn't have been that close.

"You have to give a lot of credit to Prep for keeping it close early on."

The Stanford-bound Cartwright is out until the end of the next week with Achilles issues, Ohara said. Rebels' sophomore forward Dante Fregoso was also out with hip issues and there is no timetable for his return.

"Not playing with those guys changes everything," said Rebels guard Kyle Hamane, who finished with a team-high 12 points. "We tried to stay as close as we could, but we just ran out of energy."

Maranatha led 19-11 after one quarter.

The advantage eventually ballooned to 24-14 until the Rebels rallied with an 8-0 run that culminated on a three-pointer from Andrew Tsangeos off an assist from Miles Johnson with 3:43 remaining that brought Flintridge Prep within 24-22.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, they were outscored the rest of the half, 12-5, thanks in part to Dama, who scored 14 of his 16 points, which accompanied his 10 rebounds.

Overall, the Minutemen outrebounded the Rebels on the offensive glass, 15-8, with those 15 rebounds leading to 24 points.

Senior guard Stefen Chraghchian added 10 points for the Rebels.

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