SURREY — As Sasha Vujisic’s six-week rehabilitation from a broken right finger reached its midway mark Friday, the guy who was re-cast as the solo man-in-the-middle for the defending B.C. Quad-A champion Burnaby South Rebels was showing just how much more comfortable he’s looking against elite competition.
“It’s good,” reported Burnaby South’s 6-foot-8 Aidan Wilson. “Definitely a change, because I hadn’t ever really started before, and tough. But a good learning experience to go out there and try my best.”
Burnaby South is only going to be a better team when 6-foot-10 Grade 11 Vujisic returns to action later in the new year.
Yet for the time being, Wilson is playing like he is no one’s substitute.
On Friday, in an absolutely rare clash between defending B.C. and Washington high school champs (has it ever happened before?), all Wilson did in a lopsided 101-68 loss was score 22 points, register several impressive blocks, and even dunk on Garfield’s talented Quinton Jordan.
“Aidan is getting a ton of experience right now with Sasha being out, and that was probably the most minutes he’s ever played,” Burnaby South head coach Mike Bell said after Wilson played virtually the entire game Friday. “He didn’t look one bit out of place against Garfield and his dunk was incredible.”
All this for a guy who didn’t play in Grade 9 because he was still trying to be a hockey player, was a back-up in Grade 10, and then last season continued to serve an apprenticeship as senior Jusuf Sehic and then-Grade 10 Vujisic manned the paint in the Rebels’ magical run to the B.C. title.
“Last season, Sasha and Jusuf played a great amount of minutes, but this year we have seen growth, and today Aidan was awesome,” said Bell. “Today, everything (Garfield did) was being funnelled into him. But he’s learning through the tough times. He knows Sasha isn’t coming in behind him, so he has to play disciplined and he has to play big minutes.”
The Rebels will face host Tamanawis for third place at 2 p.m. Saturday, while Sir Charles Tupper gets Garfield in the 4 p.m. final.
Last season, Garfield won the Washington state 3A title under head coach Brandon Roy. However Roy has stepped aside for this season for personal reasons, and a number of the team’s frontline starters have also not returned.
Yet the team which beat Burnaby South on Friday still looked like a juggernaut for head coach Jay’Von Nickens.
Koren Johnson had 19 to lead a balanced attack for the winners while Caleb Anglin added 16.
Burnaby South’s Jiordano Khan played like he could start for Garfield, dropping a game-high 23 points in the loss. Baltej Sohal added 12 more.
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