Burnaby South guard Jimmy Zaborniak and the Rebels are playing at their own level this season atop the B.C. boys high school basketball world, and after topping Sir Winston Churchill on Friday in the TBI semifinals in Langley, they hunt the tourney title Saturday against the King George Dragons. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Boys Basketball

Tsumura Basketball 2021: OK, how the heck do you beat No. 1 Burnaby South? “I think you have to be near-perfect” says Churchill coach Ly after Rebs crush ‘Dawgs for berth in TBI title tilt!

LANGLEY — OK, so what the secret?

How in the heck do you beat the Burnaby South Rebels?

Or is trying to get past B.C.’s No. 1-ranked AAAA boys basketball team simply an impossible task?

“I think you have to be near perfect,” said Quyen Ly, the head coach at Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill Secondary after his Quad-A No. 5-ranked Bulldogs fell 88-56 to the undefeated Rebels’ juggernaut on Friday night in the semifinal round of the 2021 Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.

“They don’t really make mistakes… and they run down hill on you the entire time,” continued Ly of the defending B.C. champions from 2020, who have returned some familiar faces but are chalk full of newcomers who have embraced the guidance of head coach Mike Bell.

“They are really well-coached,” added Ly of a team which will face Vancouver’s King George Dragons in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. final. “They don’t have two guys, they have like five guys that can really play basketball at a high level.”

There is an air of invincibility about them, and on Friday, on or near that stretch drive to the end of the first half, a pattern that is starting to become a true trend, once again began to reveal itself.

The Bulldogs — albeit already short-handed through the absence of star senior guard Milan John to injury — were hanging around to the point where suddenly the thought of cutting the deficit to under double-digits at the break was not unrealistic.

Yet as all effort is seemingly extended towards that goal, the Rebels find the slightest imperfections upon which to expose weakness, exploit it, and then the dam breaks to soul-crushing effect.

On Friday, Churchill trailed by 13 points (41-28 ) as that half began to draw to a close. But then in the blink of an eye, there is an 8-0 run to close it out, capped by Jimmy Zaborniak’s three-pointer.

Suddenly it’s 49-28, and then with the opposition now trailing by 21, and all defences down to begin the second half, here comes an 18-3 run to start the third quarter that puts the game to rest.

“We haven’t had a halftime-positive talk yet,” Bell said after the win, one which sets up his team for a potential second-straight tournament win in as many weeks following its victory over Vancouver College in the Heritage Woods Kodiak Classic. “So no matter what the score is, there’s things we’re still trying to work at.

“We have goals that we’re trying to accomplish and none of those have been met yet to start games, so regardless of what the score is, we have to do what we want to do, and execute those expectations that we have,” Bell concluded.

That’s scary news for the rest of the province.

On Friday, forward Karan Aujla led the winners with 21 points, while Zaborniak added 16, Andy Chen 13 and Zach Chan 11.

The Bulldogs will be a much healthier team in the future, and that offers Ly some hope.

“For us, we just have to be smarter,” said Ly, who lost top scorer Ethan Baron mid-game to a dislocated finger, and had to watch the minutes of star guatd Filip Subotic who had just gotten over a cold. “Physically, I think if we’re healthy we might be able to give them a shot, but we have to play smarter on our end.”

Paolo Murphy scored 21 for the Bulldogs, Subotic had 10 and Baron nine.

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