For the first time in perhaps decades, Burnaby high school teams will not be eliminating each other from Lower Mainland boys' basketball playdowns.
Both Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby South ensured themselves a berth in the Lower Mainland semifinals following memorable wins last Thursday.
Mountain can consider itself lucky following a 75-73 overtime win over Byrne Creek in the second round of Lower Mainland high school boys' basketball.
The Mountain Lions, 85-72 upset winners over Byrne Creek in the BurWest championship banner game just a week earlier, were leading by 20 points late in the final quarter before Byrne Creek staged a monumental rally, tying the game 65-65 following a layin by David Majstorovic with just three seconds left on the clock.
In OT, Byrne's Wilson Anteros scored six points, including the go-ahead bucket on an assist from Glen Morgan, but Mountain's Jaryn Bailey delighted the more than lively 300-plus fans, who packed the standing-room-only Mountain gym, scoring the game-winning basket with just seconds left.
Bailey led all scorers with a game-high 30 points, while Atdhe Harjrizi added 25.
"We all let up, we thought we had this in the bag. Our coach said, 'Once the opposition is down, keep them down,'" Bailey said, adding the team must work even harder now. "We've moved into uncharted waters. We haven't been there."
Nathal George led the Bulldogs' comeback, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second half. Majstorovic also scored 17 points, while Anteros chipped in with 16.
"The boys seeem to like to do it the hard way, so I guess, we'll do it the hard way," said Byrne Creek assistant coach Clint Lomax.
Mountain will move on to play Burnaby South at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Kitsilano. Byrne Creek will play John Oliver on Tuesday also at Kits at 4:45 p.m.
At St. George's, South did the near-impossible, upsetting No. 5-ranked Saints by an 84-83 score on Thursday.
With just one second left on the clock, Nick Garcha was fouled while grabbing an offensive rebound and made the ensuing game-winning free throw to put South in the Final Four.
"It was an amazing win for our boys," said South head coach David Smith. "When we're firing on all cylinders, we're a good team."
In past years, BurWest teams often matched up with each other on the consolation side of the draw and ended up knocking one or the other out of the competition. This year, it's different.
"Let someone else do it," Smith added.
Grade 11 guard Taylor Smith led the Rebels with 25 points, while Martin Bogajev added 22. Gino Pagbilao controlled the game from the point guard position, contributing 14 points, as did 6-6 post Dejan Posavljak.
"It's about getting all the kids to buy into the game by doing what needs to be done at this time of the year, and I think our best games are in front of us," Smith said.