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Rebels rout AGBU in opener

Basketball: Smaller up front, but still deadly on the perimeter, Prep boys begin title defense.

November 30, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

PASADENA — In its season-opener against Pasadena Armenian General Benevolent Union on Tuesday night, the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team began the transition to a new era, one that will test its ability to maintain championship-caliber play without graduated four-year starting center Kenyatta Smith.

But, while the player who had become the face of the program may have moved on, the sticky fingers and nimble legs that propelled the Rebels to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA title last season haven't gone anywhere.

Senior guard Kory Hamane scored 20 points to go with eight steals and five assists in Prep's 76-43 nonleague win that showcased the Rebels' familiar brand of intense defensive backcourt pressure designed to spark the fast-paced transition game that's been as much a part of the Rebels' recent success as Smith's formidable presence in the halfcourt set was.

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"I think the guards definitely miss what Kenyatta does for them, he makes things easier on both ends," Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. "But they've adjusted to not having that same presence inside. Things will be slightly different in terms of where we're finding our shots and defensively we have to do a little more instead of funneling to a big guy. We have to keep guys in front of us, but I think guys are making that adjustment.

"The guards are poised and I think the biggest thing is that they like each other. They share the ball with one another and are committed to playing defense together."

All 10 players who suited up for Prep scored, including guard Jedrick Eugenio and forward Chad Cosse, who each scored 12, and guard Kyle Hamane, who scored five points, while dishing out five assists and nabbing three steals filling in for injured starting point guard Robert Cartwright.

"It was a great start, I'm proud of all the guys," Kory Hamane said. "I'm just glad we were able to come together.

"We used what we had. We don't have Kenyatta and [graduated power forward] Jared [Norsworthy], so we don't have as much height, so we're going to use our speed."

Locked in a tight back-and-forth contest through the first quarter with AGBU (0-1), which advanced to the Division VI-AA quarterfinals last season, the Rebels began to break the game open in the second quarter as the Spartans began to wither under Prep's defense.

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