There’s something about Flintridge Prep’s basketball court that brings out new and thrilling moments year after year.
Over the years, there have been buzzer-beaters, overtime nail-biters, fans mobbing Rebels on the court and opponents leaving in tears.
The playoff contest between the Rebels and Oxnard Santa Clara on Feb. 17 was another classic.
Nearly seven years after defeating Santa Clara on a buzzer-beating jumper in the first round of the playoffs, the Rebels lost to the same opponent when a pair of shots fell short as time expired in the game and on their season.
Flintridge Prep’s Kory Hamane missed an open three-pointer and a teammate missed a tip-in, as the Saints celebrated a 46-44 upset against the fourth-seeded Rebels in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA playoffs.
“It was almost the same thing,” said Rebel Coach Garrett Ohara, referring to the Rebels’ 55-53 overtime win against Santa Clara in 2003, when Ramses Barden drained a basket with no time left on the clock, minutes after teammate Frank Arthofer hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
“We got them last time. They got us this time.
“We got a good look. That’s all you can ask for.”
Santa Clara Coach Kevin Thompson was an assistant for the Saints when Barden — now a wide receiver for the New York Giants — and Arthofer provided the heroics in 2003.
“It was déjà vu all over again,” said Thompson, whose team was 8-15 coming into the contest, and hadn’t won a road game all year. “When [Hamane’s shot] went up, I thought, ‘Oh no, I have been here before.’
“We’re fortunate he missed the shot.”
Santa Clara’s Bobby Martinez missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity on the other end of the court to give Hamane — who had a team-high 15 points — the chance to win it.
Martinez’s miss was one of the few on the night for the senior.
Martinez and Richard Craig combined to score 22 of their team’s 27 second-half points. Craig had 15 points in the second half en route to finishing with a game-high 18 points.
“They shot the ball well,” Ohara said. “They had no fear of going to the basket. It was about being strong and going to the basket for them. We told [our players] that [Santa Clara] was tough.”
In contrast, junior center Kenyatta Smith, the Rebels’ leading scorer on the season, had just one point, as foul trouble limited his time. It was Craig’s foul trouble that allowed the Rebels to erase an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Craig had four fouls with 5:49 to play, but was taken out for the next two minutes.
Flintridge Prep went on a quick run to close the deficit to three before a barrage of fouls turned the contest into a free-throw shooting marathon in the final two minutes.
The Rebels were 16 of 25 from the free-throw line and Santa Clara was 11 of 20, including a crucial miss that could have led to a Flintridge Prep victory.
“It didn’t turn out how we expected,” said Ohara, who also received nine points from Edmund Chow and eight from Jared Norsworthy.
“It was so hard to go into [the players’ room] and talk to all the seniors. It’s their last game. It’s over.”