“Heart over height: that’s Jimmy Z, best point guard in the province, don’t care what anyone says.”
Those were the words of Burnaby South Rebels coach Mike Bell after guard Jimmy Zaborniak finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals as the catalyst that drives the Rebels.
With the six-foot Zaborniak directing the offence and six-foot-eight centre Karan Aujla creating mismatch nightmares for opposing defences, the Rebels defeated the Semiahmoo Thunderbirds 72-57 on Saturday night to capture the B.C. School Sports 4A Boys Basketball Provincial Tournament at Langley Events Centre.
It is the Rebels’ fourth 4A title in school history, with three of those championships coming in the past four seasons played (2018, 2020 and 2022).
Zaborniak was named MVP while Aujla was the Championship Player of the Game.
Saturday’s championship final started slowly for both teams with the Rebels leading 15-11 after a quarter and 33-25 at the break, before creating separation in the third quarter when they were up by as many as 19 points. Burnaby South never trailed in the game, which was only tied for a total of 4:49.
“We just stepped on the gas defensively,” Bell said of his team. “(Semiahmoo) had some shots that weren’t hitting, and we got the rebounds and turned them into points on the other end.”
After being ranked No. 1 the entire season, Burnaby South entered the 4A Tournament as the fifth seed after they suffered an upset loss – their only defeat all season -- in the Fraser North zone playoffs, which knocked them down in the rankings. But a big reason for that loss, was the fact they were missing Aujla to injury.
Aujla missed a full month and there was concern he would not be healthy to play at provincials, finally getting cleared a few days before the team’s opener game. And with him in the line-up, it alters how teams can play the Rebels.
“He’s a problem for everybody, he changes the strategy for guarding us. He is somebody that everyone has to problem solve,” Bell said of his centre who finished with a game-high 22 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal.
“He saw double, he saw triple teams and our other guys hit some open shots … and at the end of the day, we got the job done.”
In addition to the Rebels winning the 4A title, Burnaby South also won the School Spirit Award.