Vaughn Flowers and the Rolling Hills Prep boys basketball team looked at Saturday's meeting with Loyola as if it was a playoff game.
Knowing each game is preparation for the CIF Southern Section Division 2-AA playoffs, Flowers and the Huskies came out intent on not letting up.
"We took the game like a playoff game. We had to take it like one," Flowers said.
Flowers and Benny Gealer scored 15 points each, and RH Prep rolled to a 68-49 at the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview Classic at Harbor College.
"We prepared a lot for (Loyola)," Gealer said. "We knew they were a solid team, and we wanted this game."
RH Prep (21-2, 4-0) got its offense going early. Flowers' first basket of the game, a 3-pointer, gave RH Prep an early 7-1 lead.
Loyola battled back, tying the game at 9 before Troy Murphy scored five of the final eight points in the quarter to give the Huskies a 17-9 lead after one quarter.
RH Prep began to distance itself from Loyola in the second quarter. JT Tan hit a put back inside the paint to make it an eight-point game before Gealer hit a 3-pointer with 3:53 to play in the opening half to make it a 27-14 game. Tan finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Gealer followed Flowers' 3-pointer by jumping a Loyola passing lane before converting the layup to open up a 19-point advantage. Gealer and Flowers both scored seven of their 15 points in the second.
Gealer and the Huskies are admittedly not settling when they have a lead, knowing anything can change at the snap of a finger in basketball.
"You have to be relentless. If you want to win, you do what you have to do," Gealer said. "No lead is safe, because a lot of games are three-possession games. If the other team hits three 3's, its the end of a double-digit lead."
Gealer helped stretch the lead to 25-points midway through the third quarter. His 3-pointer from the wing with 4 minutes to play in the third gave the Huskies a 47-22 lead, their biggest of the game.
The win marked RH Prep's ninth consecutive victory, with wins over teams such as Gahr, Long Beach Poly and three wins at the Snowball Classic in British Columbia, Canada.
With its success over the past few years, the Huskies have now moved up in their division, going from CIF Southern Section Division 3 to division 2-AA.
Coach Harvey Kitani knows the key to success is maintaining a steady level of play.
"The challenge is to be consistent, both at practice and in a game," Kitani said. "The playoffs are highly competitive, and there is no room for slippage. Every game is a playoff game, from here on out."
RH Prep's next playoff tuneup will be Friday against Orange Lutheran before the Huskies finish off the season with league games against CAMS, Vistamar and New Roads.
"Our expectations this season are to win," Gealer said. "We want to win CIF, go to state and win there, too. The whole goal is winning."