Rebels spoil rival Panthers' party

Basketball: Prep boys turn up defense, hand Poly first loss of the season.

January 15, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk,
  • Flintridge Prep's Jedrick Eugenio, left, drives to the basket in the first half during a basketball game between Flintridge Prep and Pasadena Poly on Saturday.
Flintridge Prep's Jedrick Eugenio, left, drives… (LIBBY CLINE, unknown )

PASADENA — Nothing could have pleased the revved up orange-clad crowd that showed up to back the unbeaten Pasadena Poly boys' basketball team on Saturday more than seeing visiting Flintridge Prep fall flat on its face right out of the gate.

And that's exactly what they got, as the Panthers staggered the Rebels with a run of 10 unanswered points in the opening minutes.

But rather than put the Rebels' lights out, the early setback in a hostile environment only served as a wakeup call for their stifling halfcourt defense, which responded promptly and carried Prep to a 57-49 Prep League win.

"Coming in, we knew their schedule wasn't exactly stacked, they hadn't played a whole lot of tough teams," said Prep center Kenyatta Smith, who scored 14 points, blocked seven shots and pulled down 23 rebounds, none bigger than the offensive board he grabbed with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter with his team up by eight that halted the Panthers' final surge and turned the game into a free-throw shooting contest down the stretch. "We knew they were going to be one of our toughest tests so far this season and we just wanted to give them as good a run for their money as we possibly could."


In addition to Smith's offensive output and defensive dominance, the Rebels (13-4, 4-0 in league) also got a big lift from Jedrick Eugenio, who led the team with 16 points and hit a number of big shots throughout the game.

"It feels great because last year it was embarrassing here," Eugenio said in reference to the teams' 21-point loss at Poly last Feb. 3. "I just wanted to help our team win."

Eugenio scored the first three points of the game from long range, but after that the Rebels fell behind, 10-3, with 2:31 left in the first quarter. After a timeout, Prep began to turn the tables with a 10-1 run of its own that saw the Panthers (15-1, 3-1) go scoreless form the field until the 4:22 mark of the second quarter.

"It shook us up a bit," Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said of the rough start. "I thought once we fought through that stretch, we came back methodically and our defense was stellar."

With the arrival of its defense, the offense wasn't far behind for Prep, which grew its 21-16 halftime lead into a double-digit advantage over the first three minutes of the second half.

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