Burnaby South Rebels defeat Semiahmoo Totems to claim banner after 39 years
The lights dimmed down, the music boomed, and the crowd went wild. With the most hype pre-game show prior to tip off, you knew it was going to be a night to remember.
Burnaby South Rebels’ Kyle Kirmachi began with a beautiful layup, but Semiahmoo Totems’ Adam Paige hit right back with his own. In just one minute of play, it was evident that this was going to be a close one.
If the Rebels wanted to come out and win this, they needed to get past the Totems’ tall boys—which they were able to do, taking the lead almost immediately.
They went for a 5-0 run, but Semi clapped back with another field goal.
Semi looked sloppy at times, turning the ball over in the paint far too many times. Burnaby South came out looking very strong. The majority of the team touched the ball in the first half, their passing was on point, and their footwork outdid their opponents.
Within under a minute to go, Rebels’ Jusuf Sehic hit an quick layup on a breakaway, putting Burnaby South in the lead by 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Just like the previous quarter, the Rebels were the first to put points up. Semiahmoo finally found the basket, getting to within 10 points of their opponent. They came back for 3, and another 2, eventually coming to within just 5 points of Burnaby South.
After a quick time-out called by Rebels’ coach Mike Bell, South came back onto the court with a vengeance. They hit a 3 to increase the point deficit to 8. But almost instantly, Burnaby fouled Paige, sending him to the line for two.
The moral of this story so far: both teams came into this game to win.
Semiahmoo kicked it up a notch, coming to within just 3 points of South. But the Rebels were determined to stay ahead. They went for a 7-0 run.
The duration of the half saw Burnaby South pressure Semi hard in the key. Both were able to make a few more field goals before the halftime buzzer, with Mihaila hitting a layup just as it sounded.
At the half, Burnaby South led 35-29.
Being a championship game, the second half of course would consist of both teams laying it all out on the court. While the Totems put up two 2s, the Rebels came right back and did the same. The third was a broken record player of points going up on each side of the scoreboard.
Rebels handled the ball extremely well in their own zone. Even with heaps of pressure, they were able to sink their 3s to stay nearly 10 points ahead of the Totems at any given moment.
No matter how hard Semi pushed to come ahead, each basket they sunk, Burnaby sunk another two. Thankfully for Mihaila’s wet 3 just as the third quarter came to a close, they were able to stay within 11 points heading into the final.
With just one quarter to go, Burnaby South led 59-48.
The Totems needed to be revived if they wanted a chance at the banner. At the beginning of the fourth, they stopped the Rebels on their second possession and came back to sink 2 and 1 after a foul call in their favour.
Energy finally seemed to flow in Semiahmoo’s direction.
Mihaila dropped another two, getting the Totems to within just 8 points. But the boys needed to stop hacking their opponent. They were called on 3 back-to-back fouls and lost control on both ends of the floor. Burnaby South led by 14 points at the seven-minute mark, prompting Totems’ Coach Lefurgy to call a timeout. With any luck, he could talk some sense into his boys.
As they returned to play, Semi went to the basket but was swatted down by Burnaby. The Totems got careless and turned over the ball, yet again.
At the two-minute mark, Burnaby led by 15 points, but Paige made an insane 3 to bring it back to a 12-point deficit. Both teams made a few more 3-pointers. However, with less than 50 seconds to go, the Totems still needed 10 points to equalize. Something they were unable to accomplish.
Despite the hard work and efforts on both sides of the court, it just wouldn’t be enough for Semiahmoo.
As the fans chanted “MVP” at Jusuf Sehic when he stepped up to the foul line with just seconds to go, it was evident that the Rebels would be crowned the victors of the 2018 BC Boys 4A Basketball Tournament.
For the first time in 39 years, the Burnaby South Rebels won a banner for their program.
And Sehic did take home tournament MVP, too.
Directly after the win, Coach Bell ran off the court to embrace his Athletic Director in an emotional hug that lasted for nearly a minute. Tears welled in his eyes as he described just how much he means to this team.
“He has pushed our basketball program for so far—he means so much to me,” Bell said of Robbie Puni. “When you have an AD like that, you can do anything.”
Coach Bell continued by defining his boys as so much more than just that.
“These boys, these boys I’ve known for so long. They’ve become men today. They battled through everything today to get where they were. To finally have this team just gel is absolutely amazing. We’re the deepest team in the Province,” he gushed. “But not just the deepest team, the deepest coaches. We have five coaches. Our coaches are amazing. We all bring something to the table. I’m just loving this moment right now.”
Coach then looked over at his boys and lit up. A picture is worth a thousand words and if you took a photo of Mike Bell in this moment, a million words still would not be able to justify it.
For a team that came into this tournament as 8th overall, they left as the top team in the province. And by admiring the smiles on each of the Rebels’ faces, it’s clear they felt as though they were the top team in the world.
Coach wiped his eyes one more time and said he would attempt to keep it together while giving the winning speech to his team.
“I’m going to try not to cry. I’m so happy. I’m amazed right now. I know I’m not good for radio or anything,” he laughed.
“But I love right now.”
Congratulations to all of the teams who made it to this tournament and gave it everything they had both on and off the court.
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Written by: Crystal Scuor