The South Pas High boys basketball Tigers continued their dazzling, historic start this past week, winning three more games and joining the Top 10 in the San Gabriel Valley rankings.
The Tigers beat Duarte 67-40 last Thursday, then won their first two games of the Grizzly Classic against Artesia on Monday and Vistamar on Tuesday — 57-51 and 58-55, respectively.
They were to play two more Grizzly tournament games Thursday and Friday, with a chance to stretch the streak to 9-0.
But even at 7-0, people are beginning to notice.
The Pasadena Star-News has the Tigers ranked No. 10 in the San Gabriel Valley rankings that includes all divisions for boys basketball, and the CIF Southern Section placed them at No. 3 in Division 4-A in their boys basketball rankings.
New Head coach Ernest Baskerville is happy to be mentioned in both of the polls.
“I don’t think the school has been ranked [for boys basketball] in a long time within the division, and we don’t think there has been a 7-0 start in the near history of the school,” he said.
“We just take everything one game at a time. We’re not going to go undefeated in the season, but I’d like for them to fight in every game that we’re in.”
The Tigers faced a Duarte team that is under a new head coach and led end to end in Thursday’s game, showcasing the full-court pressure that has been working great for them thus far.
South Pas was able to use a lot of the players who don’t usually get minutes, with Baskerville giving them some varsity play so they can get the hang of what he expects. Senior point guard Billy Reed finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds, six steals and four assists on the night, while sophomore forward Michael Ebner added 13 points.
South Pasadena opened the tournament at Calvary Chapel Downey on Monday afternoon with a good game against Artesia. The Tigers attacked the Pioneers early and often, and despite Artesia coming back and taking a small lead, South Pas dominated the game. Reed led all scorers with 28 points and junior forward Amar Ebrahim added 16 points.
The Tigers’ game against Vistamar on Tuesday evening started off on the wrong side, but after a poor seven-point first quarter, the team was able to get into game mode and became its again. South Pas was down by as many as 16 points at one point in the game but slowly got back into it and won. Reed finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Ebrahim added 11 points.
After a long bus ride and insufficient time to prepare before the game, the team plans on leaving earlier for their tournament finals match-up on Friday at 7:30 p.m. They are likely to play the winner of the Nogales/Whitney game being played on Thursday. Nogales is 6-5 overall this season while Whitney is 2-6 overall.
Before the finals game, the Tigers have a game against Edgewood on Thursday at 3 p.m. to go for eight straight wins.
“We saw them play the other night,” Baskerville said. “They are a bit on the small side, but they’re very scrappy and they play really hard. [Coach Greg Gilmore] does a good job to prepare his team, so I think it’s going to be a good game.”
Reed has been doing great for the Tigers this season and has scored double-digit points in each of their games. His move to point guard has been good for the team and has led to productivity from his teammates. Senior guard Rodney Ortega, senior forward Alan Quan and Ebrahim are three guys Baskerville mentioned who have had double-digit scoring games lately.
Baskerville also added that Ortega made all-tournament in the Azusa Tournament they won after averaging about 15 points per game.
“He just happens to get the shine because he’s scoring the points, but even himself, he’s been very much about the team and moving the ball. He’s not being selfish — he’s being a complete team player,” he said.