The talent has always been evident at Burnaby South, but for some reason or another, something would always fail to click at the senior level.
The Grade 12 core of the Rebels roster was the first of four straight Grade 8 classes to win the provincial title, taking top spot in 2014 with the subsequent three classes replicating the feat. And last year, the Burnaby South junior squad won the provincial title for their age group.
On Saturday night, Burnaby South led from start to finish in a 80-72 win over the Semiahmoo Totems in the BC 4A boys championship final at the Langley Events Centre, winning the third senior provincial title in school history but first since 1979.
It was the final of four straight championship games and the eighth-seeded Rebels were the lowest of any of the four victors.
Burnaby South head coach Mike Bell has been involved with the program for 13 years.
“The teams just haven’t jelled at the older ages,” he said. “To finally have this team jell was just absolutely amazing.”
“These boys who I have known since they were little boys just became men today. They battled through everything today to get to where they are,” he added.
Burnaby South led for all but 2:34 of the game, answering every Semiahmoo run with a run of their own.
“Hats off to them, they shot (the ball) really well,” said Totems coach Ed Lefurgy. “We just didn’t get some bounces and we didn’t really create our own luck.”
The Rebels just 42.5 per cent for the game compared to 33.3 per cent for Semiahmoo.
The discrepancy was even greater in the first half with the Totems connecting on just 24.4 per cent of their chances versus Burnaby South’s 41.7 per cent.
Despite the difference, the Totems only trailed 34-29 thanks to going to the free throw line, sinking six of nine from the charity stripe. By comparison, the Rebels did not attempt a single foul shot in the opening 20 minutes.
The Rebels would extend their lead to 11 after three quarters and they were up 16 with four minutes to play before the Totems cut the deficit down to eight.
Jusuf Sehic led a balanced attack as the six-foot-seven forward had a team-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Baltej Sohal, who was selected player of the game, added 17 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Kyle Kirmaci (16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Jiordano Khan (15 points, five rebounds and five assists) also reached double digits.
And Grade 10 six-foot-nine centre Sasha Vujisic was a force in the paint with eight points, 15 boards and four blocked shots.
Sehic was selected most valuable player, while Vujisic was named a first team all-star and Khan was a second team selection.
The Totems’ Vlad Mihaila (33 points, 13 rebounds) and Adam Paige (18 points, 13 rebounds) were also first team all-stars with Paige also winning the tournament’s most outstanding defensive player award.
The Totems were seeded sixth after finishing third at the Fraser Valley championships and the Rebels were an even lower seed at No. 8. They needed a win over Kitsilano to secure the third and final Lower Mainland berth to the B.C. championships.
“All we said we had to do was just get in,” Bell said about the message to the team prior to the Kitsilano game. “Once we get in, we can do anything.”
And the team proved just that, beating the No. 9 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 80-60 in the opener and then stunning the No. 1 Oak Bay Bays 78-66 in the quarter-finals and then knocking off the No. 13 Belmont Bulldogs 70-58 in the semifinals.