Playoff week in the BurWest district is shaping up to be a dandy.
The Burnaby South Rebels wrapped up second place in league play last Thursday with a win over fourth-place New Westminster, but not before learning a valuable lesson.
The New West Hyacks surrendered a 24-13 first-quarter lead, but then outscored the Rebels over the next three quarters in a desperate attempt to rally.
Grade 11 Rebels guard Taylor Smith got South off to a torrid start, potting 12 of his game-high 27 points in the opening 10 minutes of play.
South's 6-6 Dejan Posavljak got the better of Inderjit Singh, outscoring the Hyacks' post 20-17 in an entertaining battle between the two big men.
Sylvester Appiah led the Hyacks with 20 points, while Rick Maghera had 17 second-half points off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers in the final quarter for New West.
"We have to make sure not to let these guys shoot and to keep them off the boards," said Smith after the game. "But I still think we can correct a bunch of things and get better."
On Friday, the regular season champion Byrne Creek Bulldogs also learned a lesson in an exhibition matchup against the No. 4-ranked AA St. Thomas More Knights.
The No. 10 AAA Bulldogs allowed STM a 125 first-quarter start before turning up the defensive pressure on home court against the Burnaby independent.
Thomas Abraham got things started with seven of his team-high 12 points and three steals in the second quarter.
Nathal George kept Byrne Creek on the boil in the third quarter, with eight points, as Byrne Creek outscored the Knights 39-21 over the two periods.
But, in a similar scenerio to the first quarter, STM outscored the Bulldogs 157 in the final quarter to rally from a 16-point defict to close to within a bucket of the home team on a couple of occasions in the final minutes.
Ian Soriano all but settled the outcome with a big three-pointer off an inbounds pass late in the contest.
"Our intensity wasn't that good," said George after the game. "Never settle for the win, even when you're up by 20 points because they're always hungry to come back."
STM head coach Aaron Mitchell also came away with a lesson for his boys. "We can't have a third quarter like that," Mitchell said. "I'm proud we battled back, but going forward, we can't go to sleep for four or five minutes on the clock and hope to get back in it."
The parity between first and fourth in the BurWest should keep fans of the high school game on the edge of their seats when the final-four playoffs tip off at Byrne Creek today (Wednesday) at 5: 15 p.m.
The banner and Lower Mainland qualifying finals will be played on Friday, beginning at 3: 30 p.m.