On a day when the average margin of victory was 21 points, the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and Burnaby South Rebels combined for a doozy to cap off the 2018 Boys Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
The lead changed hands 16 times and was tied on another six occasions during a frantic second half with the Panthers prevailing 82-77 in the championship final on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre.
Not only did Lord Tweedsmuir win the elite 16-team tournament, but the Panthers should be the No. 1 ranked team in the province when the newest Quad A rankings are released. Burnaby South did hold that distinction entering the week with Tweedsmuir coming in at No. 4.
In Saturday’s championship final, tournament MVP Arjun Samra poured in 25 points for the victors while Jackson Corneil (18 points), Elijah Davison (16 points) and Austin Swedish (12 points) also reaching double figures for a well-balanced Panthers attack.
Baltej Sohal matched Samra’s 25 points for the Rebels while Justin Sunga and Aidan Wilson chipped in 13 points apiece.
The Panthers led 20-16 after one quarter and 39-31 at the half before the Rebels made their run in the third quarter, leading 59-57 with 10 minutes to play.
“We knew if we stayed together as a team and kept the ball moving, we were going to come through,” Samra said about his team’s mindset after they saw their lead slip away in the second half.
The victory was also revenge for the Panthers as they lost by 30 to the Rebels the week prior.
Lord Tweedsmuir had just lost one of their veterans, Patrick Jonas, to serious injury, and the team did not respond well.
“The last time we played them, the locker room before the game, you could feel that we didn’t think we could beat them. This time we came out with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence,” Samra said.
“They really took it to us (last time). We were embarrassed the last time we played them so to come back and win is a huge character win for us,” said Tweedsmuir coach Drew Gallacher.
“We had a good game plan (tonight) and we were sending double teams from all over the floor, trying to confuse them a little bit, and the beginning of the game, I thought we were very successful with that.”
Of course with a team the calibre of the Rebels – the defending provincial champions – Gallacher knew Burnaby South would not go without a fight.
“We knew they would come back and when they did, we just had to push back on their run,” he said.
“Our game plan was to keep them out of the paint and make them knock down some shots on the outside, and limit their second-chance opportunities. That was the difference for us.”
And that was a key in the game as Burnaby South hit just one three-pointer in the first half but struck for five triples over the final 20 minutes.
In the third-place game, it was the Terry Fox Ravens defeating the Holy Cross Crusaders 93-65.
5th/6th place: Oak Bay Bays 93 Kelowna Owls 65
7th/8th place: Byrne Creek Bulldogs 75 North Delta Huskies 52
9th/10th place: Sir Charles Tupper Tigers 95 Heritage Woods Kodiaks 80
11th/12th place: G.W. Graham Grizzlies 88 Rick Hansen Hurricanes 51
13th/14th place: W.J. Mouat Hawks 86 Belmont Bulldogs 76
15th/16th place: R.A. McMath Wildcats 76 Centennial Centaurs 69