St. Francis led throughout the entire game, never to be remotely threatened by the Panthers (1-2).
Speed, who averaged 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and three assists per game last season to earn All-Mission League second-team accolades, contributed 16 first-half points. He finished the contest with a game-high five three-pointers.
“It’s just our first game and we want to be able to find our identity,” said Speed, who played receiver to help the school’s football team qualify for the postseason in November. “We needed to get that first win under our belts.
“I jumped my highest on my shots so I could get a good rhythm. I was mad at the shots that I didn’t make. I’m not in basketball shape just yet. Hopefully, I’ll be in a couple of weeks.”
Pasadena Poly might have had a difficult time believing Speed was not in mint condition to play basketball.
Speed connected on his third three-pointer to give the Golden Knights a 15-2 lead with 1:16 left in the first quarter. He scored 13 of St. Francis’ 15 first-quarter points.
Stephens, who recently worked with O’Brien at La Cañada, said the Golden Knights did some things well.
“They are starting to think on offense,” Stephens said. “We want to get them to share the ball more.
“I thought we played a pretty good game on defense. We’ve got to get some chemistry and determine who can rebound and score inside.”
Junior guard Tommy Jordan had nine points for the Golden Knights, who got eight points and five assists from senior guard Tim Bell. Jordan had seven first-half points to give the Golden Knights, who went 10-15 and 3-11 in league for seventh place last season, a 27-16 halftime lead.
Senior guard Spencer Stephens paced the Golden Knights with a team-high seven rebounds.
St. Francis, which had 12 steals, will next compete in another tournament game at 4 p.m. today against Oakwood.
CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.