LANGLEY — We’ve gone final here from Friday’s Final Four here at the 2020 B.C. senior boys basketball championships and the Langley Events Centre.
All stories by Howard Tsumura
TOP HALF DRAW
NO. 1 BURNABY SOUTH 69 NO. 4 VANCOUVER COLLEGE 52
LANGLEY — Jacob Holt was pretty much unstoppable, but the Burnaby South Rebels still mustered the wherewithal to hold off the Vancouver College Fighting Irish 69-52 in the second of two Final Four clashes on Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
Holt, the 6-foot-9 Grade 11 front court sensation who was injured for a good stretch of the season but returned to help revitalize the Irish, poured home 31 points, to go along with 13 rebounds and five blocks, yet the No. 1-seeded Rebels still managed to prevail 69-52.
“They brought us down to earth,” said Rebels’ head coach Mike Bell of the Irish. “I thought we busted out very fast, but they brought us back. Our shots went away. It wasn’t our greatest game, put it that way, but we’re leaving here with the W and that’s what really matters… we’re going back to the finals.”
The Rebels, semifinal losers a season ago but champs in 2018, now return to the title tilt where they will face the No. 3-seed Kelowna Owls, the 2016 champ who are making their fourth finals appearance in the past five seasons.
Kelowna was an earlier 84-54 winner over North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals.
On Friday, the Rebels were unable to take their usual leading step in the frontcourt due to foul problems for senior big man Sasha Vujisic and Grade 10 Karan Aujla, thus Burnaby South wound up leaning more on the savvy of its guard group to carry the day.
“We got into foul trouble because we made some mistakes helping on defence when we weren’t in help position,” said Bell. “So that put us in a tricky situation for most of the game and we didn’t get to have our two bigs out there together until the fourth… we protected them,”
Vujisic, in fact, was 3-for-10 for the game, his final field goal coming with 3:01 remaining when he used his wing span to windmill a putback off the window for a 65-49 lead.
Aujla then made a nice cut and took a high-post pass from Vujisic, was fouled, and made one of two free throws for a 66-59 lead with 1:59 remaining.
Those two possessions, on back-to-back plays, were a reminder of just how deadly the pair can be when building their chemistry in the front court.
Still, the guards saved the day.
Grade 11s Justin Sunga and Jareb Pineda scored 18 and 17 points respectively while Emir Krupic had 10 and Aujla 13.
Next up are the Owls, whom the Rebels have beaten twice in three meetings this season.
“It’s going to be one hell of a final, that’s all I really got,” said Bell whose team beat Kelowna 72-62 at the season-opening Kodiak Classic in Port Moody and at the Owls own Western Canada tourney last month by a decisive 82-58 score.
The two teams also met in early December at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational where the Owls squeaked out a 78-77 victory.
“They put up almost 40 points (39) in the first quarter (of a quarterfinal win over Claremont on Thursday),” said Bell of Kelowna. “They were on fire to stat that game. They are 10 deep with guys that can all shoot. We have to come prepared to play 40 minutes. Not 10.”
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
NO. 3 KELOWNA 84 NO. 7 HANDSWORTH 54
LANGLEY — The Kelowna Owls’ version of “40 minutes of hell” played out to outstanding effect here Friday in the B.C. Quad-A Final Four.
From opening whistle to final buzzer, the No. 3-seeded Owls put on their best and most relentless defensive face, and in the end, wore down North Vancouver’s talented No. 7 Handsworth Royals 84-54.
“That was way better defence,” said Owls head coach Harry Parmar who took issue with the performance of his team the night before in its 94-82 quarterfinal win over Victoria’s Claremont Spartans.
“We gave up 82 points,” Parmar continued. “That’s not good. Today we gave up 52. That’s good. Everything is about defence. I don’t care about the offence.”
The Owls came at the Royals in waves, their pressure defence and its four- and five-player substitution patterns of head coach Harry Parmar bringing both a constant stream of relentlessness.
The victory sends the Owls into Saturday’s championship final against the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Vancouver College and Burnaby South.
When did the Owls gain the separation they needed to build a lead of as many as 35 points midway through the fourth quarter?
“It was about a minute-and-a-half to go before the half and we were able to go on a little bit of a run,” said Parmar.
Kelowna, leading 30-20, peeled off 11 straight points over a span of about 90 seconds, building a 41-20 lead and going to the half in front 41-23.
“We kind of went over some stuff today of what they do, but we don’t worry about other teams too much,” said Parmar. “We wanted to play at our pace, and the boys did that. They played as a team. They were getting in the lanes, moving their feet, not giving in. (Handsworth) scored on us but we didn’t make it easy for them.”
Now, the Owls return to the finals for the second straight season, and the fourth time in the past five years.
Parmar admits that over a season of adversity, including injuries which conspired against them attaining their full depth and achieving their best chemistry, he had to find a way to convince his team just how good they were now ready to be.
So after his team beat Norkam (120-59 on Feb. 20) in the Okanagan Valley semifinals, he made them a promise right before the zone final against arch-rival Mt. Boucherie.
“I knew we would have a tough (Okanagan) final so I told them that if we beat Boucherie, that we would get to the (B.C.) final.”
Boucherie, however, may have given the Owls one of the toughest fights they had all season and Kelowna eeked out a 92-86 win.
“We shouldn’t have won that game, we shouldn’t be here right now,” Parmar said of the Okanagan zone’s single berth to the B.C.’s. “We didn’t deserve to win that game, but we won. It was the type of game that you win here (at the provincials).
“I should probably have never made that comment, but it just mentally got them right,” added Parmar, clearly in tune with the heartbeat of his team.”After that, they did it all. I just had to let them know that I believed they could do it.”
Hunter Simson and Ajay Gill each scored 16 points to lead the Owls. Malcom Greggor added 12, while Jon Haughton and Braden White each scored eight.
Zachary Watters was the only Royal to reach double figures on offence with 10 points, while big man George Horn had seven points and 11 rebounds.
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