After earning a district berth at the Lower Mainland AAA boys' basketball championships over New Westminster last month, Burnaby South senior Nick Garcha said the team wanted to show more such performances that they could be proud of.
The Rebels remained true to that oath, scrapping out a spot in the championship final following a 64-58 win over BurWest No. 1 seed Burnaby Mountain in the semifinal of the Mainland qualifier at Kitsilano on Wednesday.
"We're a real up-and-down team. It's been a rollercoaster, but when we're at our best, we can beat anybody," said Garcha, who scored 12 points, including a pair of back-to-back threes in the final quarter.
Garcha also made a key offensive rebound following a missed foul shot with half a minute remaining in the game that gave point guard Gino Pagbilao the opportunity to nail the game-winning three-pointer, one of 10 the Rebels hailed on the Mountain Lions in the game.
Mountain executed well in the opening five minutes of the game, taking a 12-4 lead, but South found its rhythm to close the period up 18-13.
Those mini-runs would become the theme in the at-times scrambly played affair. But costly turnovers and missed opportunities at the bucket and on the foul line kept the scoreline close throughout.
The Lions gained the advantage at half time, when Angelo Cruz potted a three to close an 8-0 run and put his team up 32-31.
But South took back the lead in the third on back-to-back treys by Martin Bogajev and Taylor Smith, who led all scorers with 21 points, including five three-pointers.
Jaryn Bailey and Atdhe Hajrizi led the Lions with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
"Down the stretch, it was our seniors and that's the way it has to be. It's their last kick at the can," said South head coach David Smith.
South will play No. 1 seed Kitsilano in the Mainland championship final on Friday at Kits at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain plays Burnett in the consolation bracket at Kitsilano on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Earlier in the playdowns, Byrne Creek scrapped its way to a 54-53 lead after the opening possession of the fourth quarter, but then fell apart, losing 88-68 to the No. 5-ranked St. George's Saints in an eliminator matchup.
Seniors Wilson Anteros, David Majstorovic and Nathal George all hit double figures for Bryne, but it was Saints' unstoppable Grade 11 forward Drew Urquhart, who threw down 32 points who made the difference.
"The last two years have been quite challenging. The maturity has died off. I don't know where it went," Byrne Creek head coach Wayne Best. "It's something that definitely hurt our chances - that maturity about what hard work really is."