Wearing the mantle of No. 1-ranked is nothing new for the Burnaby South Rebels senior boys basketball team.
For the second straight year, the Rebels have the honour of being the pre-season favourites by provincial pollsters.
Even though they were missing some key components Thursday morning, the Rebels came out with a firm 90-56 win over the Walnut Grove Gators in the opening game of the Heritage Woods Kodiaks Klassic in Coquitlam.
Led by a 30-point performance from second-year starter and Grade 11 guard Justin Sunga, Burnaby South jumped out to a 13-4 advantage with some good inside rebounding and a spread-out attack.
Sunga didn’t score his first points – a pair from the foul line to make it 17-8 – until midway through the first quarter. He counted eight points in the second quarter, with the team exiting ahead 47-29, then tallied 12 points in the third quarter.
Loading up with 17 points was senior guard Matthew Pineda. His younger brother Jareb, who was part of the B.C. champion junior Rebels last season, drained 15 points, including two treys.
Picking up eight points apiece were Grade 11s Karan Aujla and Jimmy Zaborniak.
Burnaby South were without the services of six-foot-10 B.C. all-star centre Sasha Vujisic, who suffered a broken leg in an August scrimmage, and Emir Krupic, a Grade 12 guard expected to take on a big role in his return to the Rebels after spending most of last season at a U.S. school.
With the win, the Rebels moved on to play No. 6–ranked St. Georges in today’s 3:30 contest at Heritage Woods.