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."