Torrid Tigers Still Perfect

Billy Reed (right), shown in action earlier in the season, was named Grizzly Classic MVP after a pair of double-digit scoring efforts helped his South Pas High Tigers to the tourney title — and a 9-0 start to their season.
Photo by Ahmad M. Akkaoui

The juggernaut rolls on. The hardware is piling up.

The South Pas High boys varsity basketball Tigers stretched their remarkable season start to 9-0 and added a second tournament trophy after a 73-49 win over Edgewood on Thursday and a 62-51 victory over Whitney on Friday in the Grizzly Classic at Calvary Chapel in Downey.

The Tigers are ranked No. 1 in Division 4-A in the CIF Southern Section and No. 15 in Division 4 for the state.

South Pas pulled together the win against Edgewood on Thursday despite arriving to the game with just enough time to get into uniform. The players rushed onto the court and the game was under way.

The boys got off to a slower start than normal in the first quarter and both teams were unable to score much in the second.

With the Tigers holding a nine-point lead at halftime, head coach Ernest Baskerville told his players he wanted them to stay focused, play hard and continue to play their game.

He was focused on getting everyone some playing time and making sure to rest his guys as much as possible, knowing they had the tournament championship on Friday.

“I think one of the things I did is, I kind of threw too many guys in early,” Baskerville said. “I had a lot of the third unit in at that point — I had to get them a lot of time. We went back with the first unit in the third quarter and we let the last unit finish off the fourth. I was literally doing five in and five out so they can work on stuff.”

Baskerville said Edgewood played really hard and that he had to change things up, but that his Tigers continued to pressure the ball and ultimately came out victorious in the end.

Junior guard Amar Ebrahim led his team with 24 points and senior guard Billy Reed added 17 points.

Reed said he is able to get his teammates involved more because teams key in on him defensively.

“I think that’s what allows opportunities for our other guys on the team, and I think teams overlook them and what they can do,” he said. “They’re talented players, and no one can carry a team by themselves. Everyone needs teammates, and they’ve been doing a good job, and when everyone does their job, we’re going to come out on top more often than not.”

Whitney came into Friday’s game confident after pulling off a two-point win on Thursday against Nogales, and it jumped on South Pas early. Whitney played a hard first half and was winning 28-20 at halftime.

After Baskerville’s conversation with his players, they came out and outscored Whitney by double digits in the third quarter and never looked back.

“We weren’t hitting shots and we weren’t trying to go to the basket, so I told them if they aren’t hitting shots, at least go to the basket,” Baskerville said.

“Once we started going to the basket, that opened up opportunities to get open shots. I told them, ‘You have to be able to penetrate to kick out and get an open three,’ and we weren’t doing in the first half. Once everybody got back on the same page, we were fine.”

Reed led his team with 26 points and 14 rebounds while senior forward Alan Quan added 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Reed won the tournament MVP award and Ebrahim was selected to the all-tournament team.

Quan said the team showed who they are at the Grizzly Classic by beating two tough opponents.

“Just overcoming the difficulties in the beginning, but then we really showed we are a really resilient team because I think we were down quite a bit in the first quarter of one of the games, and we came back in the second and responded to our lack of play. The tournament really pushed us to the next level and showed us what we could really do,” he said.

The boys get a bit of rest before hosting the 2019 SoCal Christmas Classic on Dec. 26 through 30. With renovations happening to the South Pas gym, the tournament games will be played at Bishop Montgomery in Torrance, Pasadena High, Bishop Alemany in Mission Hills, Taft High in Woodland Hills, and Providence High in Burbank.

The participants in the tournament are Southern Section Division 1 Bishop Montgomery and Calabasas, Division 2AA Alemany, Santa Monica and Maranatha, Division 2A Lynwood, Division 3AA Providence, Los Angeles City Section Division 1 Narbonne, Van Nuys, Palisades and Sylmar, Division 2 South East, as well as Legacy from Nevada and Redmond from Washington.

The Tigers are the lowest division team in the tournament at Division 4A, so there is an uphill battle ahead.

South Pasadena plays an 8 p.m. game against Maranatha on Dec. 26 at Pasadena High.

“It’s going to be a tough road — there are some tough opponents ahead of us,” Baskerville said. “I don’t expect us to go undefeated in this tournament, but the fact is that we’re playing a lot tougher competition in this tournament than we’ve been playing. We can’t take any game lightly at all for any opponent.”