LANGLEY — Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Tigers and the Burnaby South Rebels have both enjoyed the kinds of seasons befitting their status as chief combatants in Tuesday’s Telus 2017 B.C. Junior Boys championship final.
Yet both of the provincial powerhouses came into their respective Final Four match-ups with an Achilles’ heel or two on their resumes.
By the time the evening was over at the Langley Event Centre’s South Court, however, all the key boxes had been checked.
No. 2-seeded Tupper, losers twice this season to No. 11 North Delta, unleashed 5-foot-5 three-point shooting phenom Norben Bulosan on the Huskies, and behind his 25-point first-half barrage, East Van’s Tigers claimed a 66-53 victory.
Meanwhile, No. 8 Burnaby South, a recent victim to No. 4 West Vancouver in the semifinals of the Vancouver and District championships, used an effective zone defence to beat the Highlanders 67-47.
A look at Monday’s two games:
SIR CHARLES TUPPER 66 NORTH DELTA 53
Junior varsity quarters are eight minutes in duration, two minutes shorter than senior, but none of that got in the way of Bulosan lighting up the sky.
The smallest player in the game was easily it’s biggest factor, scoring 25 points in 16 first-half minutes, a spree which included three treys in the first quarter and four more in the second, the last which came just ahead of the halftime buzzer and gave the Tigers a 44-29 lead at the break.
“It was amazing and coach Ron (Ronquillo) just kept telling me to keep shooting it,” said Bulosan. “He gave me the green light and it just kept going in.”
Bulosan finished with 29 points, and somehow Tupper found a new life in the fourth quarter as hard-charging North Delta limited Tupper to just nine third-quarter points, pulling to within seven (50-43) after coming out of the halftime locker and mounting a 14-2 run in which the Tigers did not score from the field.
“The last time we played, Norben wasn’t a factor, it was Gaurab (Acharya),” Ronquillo said of the other half of dead-eyed shooting back court who on Monday finished with five points. “They switched roles this time and Norben just went crazy.
“When he gets in a zone he is hard to stop,” continued Ronquillo, “becasue he wants it so much. He is a very emotional player. He sheds tears when it doesn’t go in and he really wanted to win today because they had beaten us twice this year.”
In so many ways the teams are mirrors of each other, which got Ronquillo to thinking what his team would have to do to stop itself.
“We know every single one of them can shoot the three so we had to stop that,” said Ronquillo of the Huskies. “They play a lot like us, they run and they shoot, and we thought if we could stop that we would be fine.”
Of course that is easier said than done, yet the Tigers accomplished the feat, limiting North Delta to seven total treys, and allowing just two players — Arun Atker with 17, Suraj Gahir with 15 — to reach double figures in scoring.
BURNABY SOUTH 67 WEST VANCOUVER 47
The Rebels used a 12-4 run to end the third quarter, anchoring their fortunes on an aggressive 2-3 zone defence which not only took space away from the Highlanders, it led to a string of turnovers and easy, fast-break scoring opportunities.
For South head coach Cody Cormack it was like a full theatre presentation of what they had just experimented with in the latter stages of their loss to the Highlanders at the V&D tournament.
“When we saw them the last time, they gave it to us pretty good,” said Cormack of West Van. “We went to a 2-3 zone in the second half of that game though, and it helped us close the gap. So we came into this game really wanting to win, to get a little retribution, and we got it.”
The committment to the zone Monday not only stifled the Highlanders in the half court, it’s aggressive, trapping tendencies produced both turnovers and long rebounds, both of which allowed the team’s speed burners — forward Baltej Sohal and guard Kyle Kirmaci — to get out and score in outnumbered situations.
Sohal scored a game-high 22 points, Kirmaci adding 17, while Emir Krupic and Brandon Obuyes added 10 each.
West Van forward Erik Neusel was given no space to operate all game long, but still scored 18 points in the loss. Simone Ceolin added 14 but was given nothing easy.
“I have been lucky to have coached a lot of these guys since they were 11 or 12,” said Cormack. “We’ve worked on (the zone) for about two-and-a-half years. We were notorious for extending it four feet outside the three-point line, which left the high-post as easy pickings. The tough part for them is knowing when to gamble and when not to.”
BURNABY SOUTH VS. SIR CHARLES TUPPER
With the right choices made from their perspective, Burnaby South moves on to face a Tupper team which they have beaten in both of their meetings.
The Tigers’ pace and their three-point shooting ability make the zone a riskier proposition, however the Rebels have held a big upper hand against the East Van squad this season.
“We beat them at the North Shore Invitational and the W.J. Mouat tournament,” said Cormack. “They say the third time is usually the charm, so we have to come out with something special.”
And not sleep on Bulosan.
“Norben is a great player, and all five of them can shoot from beyond the arc,” Cormack summed. “So we have some work to do.”
Tuesday’s final tips off at 6 p.m.
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