Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures
When the McMath Wildcats engineered a furious third-quarter comeback to pull within six points of the Burnaby South Rebels, head coach Jon Acob believed the ‘Cats would claw all the way back.
But credit the No. 1-ranked Rebels, who answered with 17 straight points of their own en route to a convincing 66-37 victory to net the provincial junior boys’ high school basketball championship Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre. The Rebels finished the season undefeated at 34-0.
“When we brought it down to six, I thought we were going to win it. But that’s a very good team that matches up to our style and nothing fazes them. They are very calm and that’s why they are the champs.”
Though it may be difficult now, the Wildcats have no reason to hang their heads. As Acob said, “they gave it their all and didn’t give up.”
It’s the kind of character they’ve shown all season, and why Acob and associate coach Chris Kennedy are so proud of them.
Seeded sixth going into the B.C. tournament, McMath exceeded expectations—particularly with exhilarating wins over No. 2-ranked Vancouver College Fighting Irish in Monday’s semifinals and St. Georges Saints in the quarters.
“It was a great year,” said Acob. “When Chris and I took this team together we focused on culture and working as a team. I’m not surprised we did this well. I knew we were good.”
The success of the Wildcats bodes well for the future—both of the junior and senior teams.
The Richmond champions entered the 32-team provincial tournament with optimism, and quickly showed their athleticism in a 66-48 opening-day win over Sahali of Kamloops before topping Yale Lions 49-41.
Further, McMath’s character was put to the test at the provincials when they lost two key players to season-ending injuries. Testament to their trust in each other, and their depth, three different players earned MVP honours in their first three tournament games. And three different players led the team in scoring.
“While this is a very talented group, they also understood how to play as a team,” Acob said. “They didn’t care who scored as long as they got the win. I hardly had to coach. I just liked watching them play.”