By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Sports Editor
The guys from Flintridge Prep need not look far to find their opponent for Saturday’s CIF championship game. In fact, the Rebels can simply make the half-mile walk down the road to meet up with the team from John Muir.
The game plan deployed by head coach Garrett Ohara worked like a charm Friday night, as Flintridge jumped out to an early double-digit lead and never looked back, en route to a resounding 86-72 win over Mission Prep in the CIF Southern Section Div. 5AA semifinal.
The game, played at La Cañada High School, began with the Rebels guessing correctly, that Mission would double team their 6-foot-8 center, Kenyatta Smith. That left plenty of space for guards Kory Hamane and Jedrick Eugenio to find open shots–which they did–and hit for seven 3-pointers between them.
“We know that if we’re missing shots, they’re going to double-team Kenyatta, and that makes it a whole lot easier for us, and if we make shots, that opens up the middle for Kenyatta. It makes it an easier game,” Hamane said afterward. “I was feeling it and I know Jedrick was feeling it.”
Hamane finished with 16 points, behind Smith’s game-high 19. Kory’s brother, Kyle Hamane, added 4 points in the win.
Ohara said his team’s strategy looked brilliant only because it worked well early and often, with Flintridge opening a lead of nearly 30 points in the fourth quarter.
“Jedrick hitting early helped a lot, opening up for Kenyatta,” Ohara said. “If they double-team Kenyatta, then you’re going to lose Kory on the perimeter, or Robert or Jed. The guys shot the ball as they’ve been shooting it all year, so I think on the big stage, they were ready to perform.”
The Rebels will vie for the Div. 5AA title on Saturday against Muir, who eked out a 66-62 victory over Santa Clara. The championship will take place at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
This will be the third trip to the finals for Flintridge, who lost in both 1989 and 2004. Last year’s knockout in the first round of the playoffs left a sting that Kyle Hamane said the Rebels remembered throughout this season.
“Our goal this year, from Day 1, was to get to the finals,” Kyle explained. “Last year, I didn’t play much, I just watched from the sidelines, so this year, I wanted to get out there and get that banner.”
Ohara agreed that advancing to the final game is indeed gratification for his team’s hard work.
“It’s sweet, very sweet,” Ohara said. “It’s redemption for these guys and we’ve had strong support from guys who have played in the past, showing up for games or sending messages, so we want to do it for them as well.”
Div 1A: Capistrano Valley 61, Aliso Niguel 46
Taylor Hamasaki led all scorers with 25 as the Cougars advance to the title game against Loyola.
It was Hamasaki’s scoring streak in the second quarter that effectively put the game out of reach. With his team leading 20-14, the senior connected on CV’s next six possesions, for 13 straight points.
“He is the guy who is our senior and he’s that good,” CV head coach Brian Mulligan told the Orange County Register. “He’s almost too unselfish. I told him, ‘We need you to stop deferring to everyone else. Your team needs you.’”
Div. 2AA: Mission Viejo 73, Summit 69
Mission senior guard Luke Sakamoto did not score in the win. The Diablos will play in the title game Saturday, against Ventura at the Anaheim Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Div. 2A: Mayfair 61, Palos Verdes Peninsula 59
Frosh Kurt Murakami did not score for the Panthers, who finish the season with a record of 28-2.
With 1:35 left to play and Peninsula leading 59-58, Mayfair’s Dion Wright sank a three-point shot fromo the corner. Wright then forced Pen’s Reese Morgan into a rushed shot that missed and the Panthers got the rebound but were inable to get off another shot before time expired.
The Rio Hondo Prep vs. Valley Torah semifinal, originally sheduled for last Friday was moved to Monday at 7 p.m.