COMING off an eight-point performance the game before in the semifinals, Jared Pineda made sure his shooting slump was temporary.
“My shot was not on yesterday [Monday], so I came into the gym this morning, got some shots up and got warm,” he explained.
The extra shooting session paid dividends in a big way for the standout Grade 10 player and his Burnaby South Rebels teammates.
Pineda scored 29 points to lead the Rebels to a convincing wire-to-wire victory on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre in the title game of the 50th annual Junior Boys Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament. The Rebels, the top seed in the 32-team tournament, defeated the No. 6 R.A. McMath Wildcats 66-37 to capture the provincial title.
“Once my shots were falling, I just fed from the energy from the crowd,” Pineda said. “The crowd was wild today and I have never had a crowd this big before.”
Pineda was named both the Championship Player of the Game as well as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging nearly 21 points per game.
The first quarter was relatively competitive with Burnaby South taking a 15-10 lead after eight minutes and then extending their advantage to 13 points, 34-21 at half-time. McMath cut the lead to 38-32 early in the third quarter but a fourth consecutive comeback for the Richmond school was not in the cards. The Wildcats had already rallied to defeat the defending champions in the round of 16, the No. 3 seed in the quarter-finals and the No. 2 seed in the semifinals and a win over No. 1 Burnaby South would have given McMath the trifecta of taking down the tournament’s top three seeds.
“Stay together and we are going to be fine,” Burnaby South coach Tyus Batiste said about what his message was during that third-quarter Wildcats surge.
And his team did just that. Once McMath cut the lead to 38-32, Burnaby South absolutely dominated, scoring 17 straight points and 28 of 30 spanning the third and fourth quarters. McMath had just one field goal in that span before finally hitting a three-pointer for the game’s final points.
“When we brought it down to six, I thought we were going to win it. But that’s a very good team that matches up to our style and nothing fazes them, that’s incredible. They are very calm and that’s why they are No. 1, the champs,” said McMath coach Jon Acob.
“They gave it their all and didn’t give up, just the grittiness and the heart …” he said, his voice trailing off.
For the Rebels, there has not been much adversity this tournament, trailing just twice – early in the first quarter at 5-4 in Monday’s semifinal and into the second quarter of the team’s round of 16 game, when they were down by six points.
“Our kids were a little shook, but stick with what I have taught you, stick what has got us here and we are going to be OK,” Batiste said of the message during that second game of the tournament.
His players obviously received the message, rebounding to win the game by 33 points. In fact, Burnaby South – which wrapped up an undefeated season at 34-0 – won their five games by an average of nearly 25 points, with only one opponent (Claremont in the quarter-finals) keeping the deficit below 20 points, losing 64-48.
The team was also motivated by an earlier than anticipated loss at the 2018 Provincial Invitational Tournament, when they were bounced in round two, despite some lofty expectations.
“We (leadership group) knew we had to be prepared and take over,” Pineda said. “As a program, we take these losses to heart and we need to get better every day, (so) we get together and work for it.”
Batiste felt Pineda benefitted from playing on the junior team as a Grade 9 last year, and the lone two Grade 9s on this year’s squad both proved to be ready for the bigger stage as Jimmy Zaborniak scored 17 and Karan Aujla had 15.
The title was the third junior boys title in program history, as they also prevailed in both 2013 and 2017.
That first championship team featured Batiste on the roster but he liked this one even better.
“I have won a title as a player and as a coach, and this is way more fun,” he said.
In Tuesday’s bronze-medal game, No. 2 Vancouver College received 27 points from Jacob Holt to defeat No. 4 St. Patrick 75-56.
St. Patrick Celtic’s Justin Macatangay was named the Best Defensive Player
A.R. MacNeill Ravens were named the Most Sportsmanlike Team
First Team All-Stars:
Daniel Marcelo (St. Patrick)
Jacob Holt (Vancouver College)
Travis Hamberger (R.A. McMath)
Karan Aujla (Burnaby South)
Rio Hutchful (R.A. McMath)
Second Team All-Stars:
Jose Malabanan (St. Patrick)
Kevin Kao (Walnut Grove)
Brandon Nemes (Okanagan Mission)
Jimmy Zaborniak (Burnaby South)
Miguel Vargas (R.A. McMath)
Cole Cruz-Dumont (Vancouver College)
Nicholas Chan (Sir Winston Churchill)
Joseph Ho (Yale)
Jayden Cousins (M.E.I.)
Eli Van Haren (St. George’s School)
Final Top 10 Placings:
- Burnaby South
- A. McMath
- Vancouver College
- Walnut Grove
- Okanagan Mission
- George’s School
For full tournament results of all 32 teams, click here.