Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers dethroned the defending provincial quad-A champions Burnaby South Rebels to claim the Tsumura Basketball Invitational senior boys championship last weekend at the Langley Events Centre.
As opposed to many of the lopsided affairs earlier in the day – the average margin of victory in other Saturday games was 21 points – the Panthers-Rebels tilt was a barn-burner, with 16 different lead changes.
Tweedsmuir’s Arjun Samra scored 25 points in the win and was named tournament MVP for his efforts, while Jackson Corneil (18 points), Elijah Davison (16 points) and Austin Swedish (12 points) also reached double-figures for the Panthers.
The Rebels, defeated Terry Fox Ravens 85-82 in the semifinal while the Panthers – who were ranked fourth in B.C. prior to the tournament – cruised to a 96-71 win over the No. 3 Holy Cross Crusaders in the semifinal.
The Panthers bounced back after a 85-56 loss to Burnaby two weeks ago in the Kodiak Classic semifinals in Port Moody.
The Panthers led 20-16 after one quarter and 39-31 at the half before the Rebels made a run in the third quarter, leading 59-57 with 10 minutes to play.
“We knew if we stayed together as a team and kept the ball moving, we were going to come through,” Samra said about his team’s mindset after they saw their lead slip away in the second half.
The victory was also revenge for the Panthers as they lost by 30 to the Rebels the week prior. However, just prior to that game, Tweedsmuir had lost a key veteran player to injury – Patrick Jonas – and did not respond well.
“They really took it to us (last time). We were embarrassed the last time we played them so to come back and win is a huge character win for us,” said Tweedsmuir coach Drew Gallacher.
“We had a good game plan (tonight) and we were sending double teams from all over the floor, trying to confuse them a little bit, and the beginning of the game, I thought we were very successful with that.”
Samra echoed his coach’s thoughts, and said the energy prior to Saturday’s final was much more positive than it had been for the teams’ first matchup.
“The last time we played them, the locker room before the game, you could feel that we didn’t think we could beat them. This time we came out with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence,” he said.
On Monday night in their first game of league play, Tweedsmuir could not carry the momentum forward from the weekend, losing to Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators 96-76.