Reed Roars, South Pas Soars

South Pasadena’s Billy Reed (right) battles San Marino’s Joey Fuerst under the basket on Jan. 22. Reed finished with 45 points and 11 rebounds as the Tigers began a three-game win streak. Photo by Denny Fuerst

Three times, Billy Reed dazzled. And three times, the South Pas High boys basketball Tigers came away with a victory.

Reed, the Tigers’ star senior forward, scored 45 points, 43 points and then 29 points this past week as South Pas won all three of its games and improved to 17-6 overall and 4-2 in the Rio Hondo League.

The three-game winning streak also gave the Tigers four victories in their last five.

South Pas began the bountiful stretch by beating visiting San Marino 83-77 on Jan. 22. Then came an 80-77 home win over Blair on Jan. 24, and finally a 63-56 victory over Santa Fe on Jan. 25 at the Legacy Tribute Classic hosted by Marantha High.

Against San Marino, the Tigers started slower than usual but came back to close the Titans’ lead to one point at the end of the first quarter.

Reed began to make it look easy in the paint, drawing fouls and giving his team the lead. Both teams traded points for the remainder of the second quarter, and the Tigers had a 36-35 lead at halftime.

Despite shooting poorly to start the third quarter, South Pas went on a 12-2 run midway through the period to maintain a one-point lead at the end.

The Tigers’ defense turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter and began to pull away. South Pas led by as many as 10 points and went on to win the game by six points.

Reed finished the game with a double-double — 45 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Senior forward Alan Quan added 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and senior guard Rodney Ortega scored 12 points.

The Tigers’ game against Blair turned out to be better than the first meeting between the teams two weeks prior.

Reed started the game aggressively and scored 16 of his team’s 24 first-quarter points, but Blair was able to make its shots to stay within six points at the end of the quarter.

The Vikings showed they were going to give the Tigers a good game and took the lead midway through the second quarter, but South Pas kept its six-point lead at halftime.

Both teams picked up where they left off to start the third quarter, and it was a back-and-forth battle for the lead. At the end of the quarter, the Vikings had a one-point lead.

It was a tough quarter for the Tigers on defense, but they were able to get some stops to keep the game close. With 20 seconds left, South Pas was down by one point and went up by one point after running a play that led to a layup by Reed.

It was the second game in a row in which Reed recorded a double-double and the second in a row in which he scored more than 40 points. He finished the game with 43 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore guard Jay Kim added 13 points.

The Tigers’ win against their Division 3A opponent on Saturday was well-deserved. They were facing a large mountain to climb.

Santa Fe started the game strong and went on a 9-2 run. It was clearly a good team, and to add some drama to the story, Quan, one of the Tigers’ key scorers, went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter.

The Tigers were down by six points at the end of the quarter and were struggling to get their offense going in the beginning of the second quarter. Quan’s absence was felt. At the end of the first half, Santa Fe’s lead was four points.

South Pas came out of halftime fighting for the lead and got it halfway through the third quarter. Both sides played smart and the Tigers had a one-point lead at the end of the period.

The Tigers began to play lockdown defense in the final quarter and got key stops to get the game going. It was a tie game with five minutes left in the game despite South Pasadena controlling much of the quarter. With back-to-back 3-pointers by Ortega and Kim, then back-to-back steals that led to a layup and another three by Ortega, the game was sealed by the Tigers.

“I love the fact that we played hard down the stretch,” head coach Ernest Baskerville said.

“The game was very physical and I’m glad our guys are starting to learn how to play physical basketball without fouling. We only had three team fouls with six minutes to go in the game, and we played a smart game. Everyone was moving and doing their job — I thought that as a team, we did a good job of moving the ball.”

Reed finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Ortega and junior guard Amar Ebrahim added eight points apiece.

The Tigers had a big test on Jan. 29 at La Cañada and were looking for a chance to even the season series against the Spartans. Then they hosted Temple City on Jan. 31.