The first quad-A semi-final matchup of the day featured two teams that completely shocked us in the quarterfinals. The Belmont Bulldogs—the underdog team from the island—and the Burnaby South Rebels—a team that slayed the first seeded team on Day 2.
Not long after tip-off, Rebels’ Noah Pastrana found dropped the rock first to break the scoreboard. The team then went for a 6-0 run before Belmont hit two field goals and eventually pulled up by one point.
But Burnaby South fired back with a cherry pick and another layup from Baltej Sohal and Jusuf Sehic, respectively, putting them back in the lead.
The Rebels proved early on that they excelled from downtown, hitting treys from all over the arc.
In comparison to the previous two games Belmont had played, the Dogs seemed nervous with the ball. They lost their footing on D and were unable to box out Burnaby to grab any boards.
At the end of the first half, the Rebels lead 36-21.
Bulldogs’ big Isaac Ickovich put up the first points of the second half with a nice shot off the glass. The boys even stopped the Rebels on their first possession, going to the basket again, but unfortunately shot an airball.
Ickovich incurred his second foul of the game giving Burnaby a shot at the foul line where they sunk another one. Just when it looked as though the Rebels were about to go on a run, Belmont stepped it up in the paint. Nishad Tarak had major handles early on, bringing the score to within just three points of their opponent.
Ickovich was relentless under the basket, dropping enough points to come within just one point of Burnaby South. The Rebels dropped another two, taking a slight lead near the end of the third. Cue the dramatic back-and-forth style of play.
With just one quarter left in the game, the Burnaby South Rebels led 46-44.
Rebels’ Sehic dropped in the first points that seemed to give them momentum boost in the first three minutes of play. They went on an 8-0 run before the Bulldogs could hit a basket. Soon after, South got stuffed by the Dogs, who turned over the ball and sunk 2.
But the Rebels continued to hammer the Bulldogs with a steady 8-point lead. It seemed to be over when Kyle Kirmachi hit a wet 3, and then South swatted the ball down to deny Belmont a basket on their next possession.
With just one minute remaining, the Bulldogs fell to a 12-point deficit and looked completely deflated.
Burnaby South continued to climb in points and Aidan Wilson even hit a beautiful slam-dunk with just seconds left on the clock.
In the end, the Burnaby South Rebels defeated the Belmont Bulldogs by a final score of 70-58, clinching a spot in the Championship game tomorrow.
Sasha Vujisic was named player of the game with 21 points and 17 rebounds.
Coach Mike Bell was full of emotion after the game. His eyes gleamed with pride as he described just how big this win was for his boys tonight.
“I’m ecstatic. Just a chance to be here is a blessing,” he said. “And now to be where we are, we have a chance to possibly win it all is amazing.”
It’s been 39 years since the Rebels have been to a championship final—and 39 years since they took home the banner.
The real question is, can they do it again?
Check out our YouTube channel for the full game highlights!
Written by: Crystal Scuor