Three times lucky was not in the cards for the Burnaby South Rebels at the Crehan Cup high school girls' basketball championships.
The Rebel girls lost the consolation final 83-74 to the Richmond No. 1 Steveston-London Sharks at the Mainland championships. Steveston-London earned an automatic berth into the AAA girls' provincial championships. South must play a wild-card matchup on Tuesday against a team to be named on Sunday.
It was the third game this season between the two high school programs and the first loss by South to the Richmond champions this year. South won the two previous meetings between the two teams in tournament play, but unforced turnovers and untimely shooting played into the hands of the win-hungry Sharks this time.
Junior guard Aliya Prasad was almost unstoppable, knocking down 31 points for the Sharks, including six three-pointers. Nineteen of Prasad's points came in a turn-around second quarter that knotted the game at 40-40 at the half.
"We were determined, really determined," said Prasad after the game. "Our coach really wanted it. He wanted it for us. It was awesome. This is when it counted."
Desiree Lister was a constant force for South, scoring 18 of her team-high 21 points in the first half. She also had 10 rebounds. But it was a lot to ask of the 5-10 junior forward.
In the second half, Steveston-London shut down the low post and South had little answers for Prasad and senior guard Anmol Mattu, who scored 16 of her 24 points in the final frame, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line down the stretch.
South senior guard Pavneet Brar scored 18 points, including four treys, and five steals. Stephanie LabbŽ and Jasmine Manhas chipped in with 13 points apiece.
"We've shot better ... but it was our turnovers that killed us," said South coach Merv Magus. "(South) has played in pressure. They've played Steveston-London before. They were really hot, but we weren't.
"It didn't seem like they were relaxed. They really wanted to get to the provincials."
On Friday, The South Rebels overcame a six-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat Kitsilano 58-51 in the backdoor semifinal at Burnaby South on Friday.
Brar scored three straight three-pointers between the third and fourth quarters to give the Rebels their first lead of the second half, sparking the Lower Mainland hosts to a 22-11 final quarter over the westside Vancouver school.
The turning point came with five minutes left, when Brar made both foul shots to give South a four-point lead after the Kits coach drew a technical foul. Brar led all scorers with 26 points, including four of her six treys coming in the second half.
Moments later, Brar dished an assist to Lister, who made the layin to give South an uncatchable six-point advantage.
Lister, who led South with 15 points and nine rebounds in Thursday's 30-point loss to Argyle. scored a key double-double against Kits, netting 12 points and 12 second-half boards, including four offensive rebounds in the second half.
Manhas ensured South the win, scoring all eight of her points in the final frame. The Grade 11 forward had two key steals for scores in the final minutes.
South will face honourable mention Yale in the provincial wild-card matchup on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Brookswood Secondary School. Game time is 2:30 p.m.