It came right down to the final second.
Burnaby South's Laini Glover didn't wilt on the hot seat when, with a tie game and just one second on the score clock, she was put on the foul line.
The sharp shooter made her first shot and that proved to be the difference. That game was also for the league banner.
Glover's free throw lifted the Rebels to a 58-57 win over the Burnaby Central Wildcats, notching a league playoff title for the hard-working Burnaby South crew.
In a game where both teams were equally well-prepared, the thrilling end proved a fitting finish.
While they held a three-point lead after three quarters, the Rebels had spent a good portion of the first half in chase mode, trailing by six after the opening quarter and 22-18 at halftime. But they erupted for 22 points in the third quarter, seven more than their Central rivals. In the fourth frame, the lead changed four times, with the Wildcats pulling ahead 55-54 when Jalynne Huynh completed a three-point play from the foul line. South would surge once more, getting their own basket and a free throw from Tina Liu, before the Wildcats tied it and appeared to have forced overtime with its 20th point of the quarter.
But the last second foul came mid-court and in bonus situation, giving Glover the spotlight. She nailed it for her 10th point of the game.
"It was a close, defensive battle all game long, and we were down by four points at half time," South coach Mark Zaborniak wrote in an email. "Central scored, getting most of their points from jump shots – many of them three pointers, while (we) scored mostly from in the paint."
Both Glover and Awek Deng had stellar games under the hoop, with Deng locking down a game-high 19 points. Counting 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, was Liu. The Rebels also got considerable contributions, offensive and defensive, from Stephi Zaborniak, who was tasked much of the game to cover Huynh, and Dilara Altun.
Huynh topped Central shooters with 19 points, while younger sister Jade and Bethany Lim chipped in nine each.
Wildcats coach Chris Ducharme noted that it was a heartbreaking way to lose.
“It is what it is," he said in an email. "It was a well-played game. We had the lead at halftime. ... (The) lead changed through the game. We had opportunity to win. Came down to the wire."
Burnaby Central got big performances from the Huynh sisters as well as Lim, racking up 12 three-pointers.
The two teams had solid tests to get into the final, with South topping Burnaby Mountain 60-53, getting 17 points and nine rebounds from Deng. Burnaby Mountain's Sophia Vivero counted 20 points in a loss that saw the two teams enter the second half tied 34-34.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, dispatched Burnaby North 51-44. Jalynne Huynh tallied a game-high 23 points, while sister Jade, Lim and Sasha Salmon tallied eight points apiece. For the Vikings, Sammy Gee set the pace with 13 points, while Morgan Chow chipped in nine.
In the third-place game, Burnaby Mountain turned a three-point deficit at halftime around with a strong second half, beating North 52-33.
The tourney all-stars were, from South, Deng and Glover, Central's Huynh and Lim, Mountain's Vivero, and North's Chow.