Whether he was elevating over waves of defenders to score or swatting away or altering just about every shot attempt that entered his domain, Kenyatta Smith was too tall an order for the Blair High boys' basketball team to handle.
The Flintridge Prep senior center came up huge in Tuesday night's CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal with 26 points and 15 rebounds, while blocking nine shots. Add to that a balanced and inspired effort from the rest of the Rebels' starters, one that included 18 points from freshman point guard Robert Cartwright and 13 points from senior forward Jared Norsworthy, and there was really little the visiting Vikings could do to avoid a 79-57 loss.
But from beginning to end — with the end essentially coming midway through the third quarter — it was Smith who powered the top-seeded Rebels (21-6), beginning with a 10-point first quarter.
"My goal was to keep doing what I was doing in practice — being a dominant force," said Smith, whose team will host the No. 4 seed, Mission Prep, at 7 p.m. Friday at a neutral location to be determined. "[I was] trying not to put the ball on the ground as much, just go straight up as strong as I can and it seemed to work tonight."
Smith scored six points in a 43-second span late in the first quarter, catching the ball deep in the post and converting while being fouled on consecutive possessions to give Prep an 18-9 lead.
"We came out ready to play," Rebels Coach Garrett Ohara said.
A small run brought Blair (14-17) back to within four by the quarter's end, but Prep hadn't yet shown its full force. A 14-2 run to begin the second quarter would give the Vikings a glimpse.
Kory Hamane opened the barrage with a three-pointer before Smith took over once again. Smith scored four quick points on a layup and a putback on a fast break, then picked up his sixth and seventh blocks, both in the same possession, with the second one sparking a fast-break finish for Cartwright.
The run extended with two more fast-break layups by Jedrick Eugenio and Cartwright, who then hit a three-pointer to make it 39-22 with 2:45 left in the first half.
"I think we showed in the second quarter how dominant our defense could be," Ohara said. "We were able to shut them down defensively and it made some things easier for us offensively."
Norsworthy scored the last five points of the half to give Prep a 44-26 lead, first blocking a shot, grabbing his own board and racing the length of the floor for a layup and the foul, and then sinking a pretty fade away on the baseline.
"Everybody had the momentum [on defense], everybody was getting blocked shots and those led to the easy breaks on the offensive side," Smith said. "We just kept rolling with that."