#7 “AAAA” Handsworth Royals vs #6 “AAAA”Burnaby South Rebels
Earlier this season, the #6 “AAAA” Burnaby South Rebels edged the #7 “AAAA” Handsworth Royals 88-76 in the Heritage Woods Tournament. The Final of the Rod Thomson Memorial Tournament featured the same teams, which could be another preview of a matchup played in March. The home team Rebels won two statement games against the Honorable Mention “AAA” Richmond Colts and Carson Graham Eagles in front of packed gyms and energetic crowds to punch their ticket to the final. The #7 “AAAA” Handsworth Royals won two close games, opening the tournament with a revenge win against the #9 “AAAA” Kitsilano Blue Demons, who just two weeks ago defeated them in the final of the “No Regrets” Tournament, and a win against the tough out of town competitors Western Canada Redhawks.
Burnaby South won the opening tip and immediately went inside to one of their twin towers #23 Jusuf Sehic who scored the first point of the game off of a free throw and the first field goal as well. #9 Nate Watters would have to have a big game for Handsworth as the Royals were missing starting guard Blake McLean and 6th man Jake Horn. He would open the scoring for the Royals with a “3”. The Rebels continued pounding it inside with a heavy does of high-low action between #21 Sasha Vujisic and #23 Jusef Sehic. The strong start for the Rebels had them leading 11-5 halfway through the first. #9 Nate Watters of Handsworth hit another triple only to be answered with back-to-back “3’s” by #15 Baltej Sohal and #1 Kyle Kirmaci South. After a pair of free throws by #11 Ben Grant, #9 Nate Watters of Handsworth hit his third triple of the quarter to cut the lead down to 2. By the end of the quarter the score was 24-19 in favour of the home team.
The Rebels started the quarter out strong with a couple easy buckets followed by a “3” from #24 Jiordano Khan which pushed the lead to 10 forcing Handsworth into a timeout. The Royals struggled early with turnovers, but Burnaby South’s aggressive defence was also fouling which would put Handsworth in the bonus with 7 minutes remaining to play in the quarter. #43 Jacob Larose of Handsworth hit a “3” out of an inbounds then #6 Stanley Choo got a tough basket in transition. #24 Jiordano Khan of South put an end to that mini run with another “3” of his own. He wasn’t done there and knocked one more down for good measure on his way to a 13 point quarter. #15 Baltej Sohal of Burnaby South ignited the crowd on back to back plays, first with a behind the back cross to lose the defender into a pull up jumper followed by a sweet no look pass to hit the runner in transition for an easy “2”. At the half the Rebels led 47-35.
Both teams started the second half slow with only one field goal between the teams four minutes into the quarter. #15 Baltej Sohal of the Rebels continued his flashy play with a behind the back pass that gathered “oohs” and “ahhs” before a euro step into a floater which extended the Rebels lead to 16 and forced Handsworth into another timeout. #11 Ben Grant of the Royals hit the first bucket of the quarter for the Royals on a small fadeaway jumper in the middle of the key. In the third #15 Baltej Sohal of Burnaby South kept on the attack including a penetrate and kick to #8 Vince Sunga for a corner “3”. #9 Stanley Choo hit a three to end the quarter, but the Royals still trailed 63-46.
Another “3” by the Rebels, but this time from #1 Kyle Kirmaci continued the Rebels drive. A turnover by the Royals put #22 Miguel Ortinero of the Rebels in alone for a layup that made the crowd go nuts - causing a delay in game as fans spilled onto the court in celebration. #9 Stanley Choo hit another “3” to stop the Burnaby South run and #11 Ben Grant followed that up with an “and 1” which put the lead at 17 points for the Rebels with 6:30 to play. Sensing a run, Burnaby South put their tall players back in and #23 immediately went to work scoring back-to-back baskets. A “3” by #15 Baltej Sohal of Burnaby South may have put the nail in the coffin but #9 Stanley Choo hit his third “3” of the quarter trying to keep the Royals in it. As the benches were emptied into the game, the fans got excited cheering for their favourite players off the bench. #5 South was such one of those players and hit the hardest shot in basketball - the on the bench for 38 minutes into a “3”. After 40 minutes the Burnaby South Rebels were on top by a score of 80-64. Rebel fans rushed the court and celebrated with their team and the cheering continued throughout the trophy presentations.
Congratulations to the Burnaby South Rebels, Champions of their own Rod Thomson Memorial Tournament.