It wasn’t the result they wanted, but it was the kind of test they can take to the bank.
Although the Centennial Centaurs came up short in a 76-69 loss to the No. 1-ranked Burnaby South Rebels on Sunday in the Fraser North 4-A zone championship final at the Langley Events Centre, the result was secondary to the lesson.
Now they’ve got 10 days to prepare for the final exam.
Centennial will enter the B.C. 4-A senior boys basketball championships March 4 to 8 with a healthy chip on their shoulder, having qualified as the second-best team in the North zone. Although they never held a lead, the No. 2-ranked Cents showed flashes of the steamroller that had defeated Burnaby South 66-60 in early January during a span where the Coquitlam squad stood atop the B.C. poll.
This time, the Rebels’ multiple offensive weapons proved too much for the Centaurs.
“I thought we needed to get a bit more secondary scoring in this game, and I thought that was the difference in this game,” remarked Centennial coach Rob Sollero. “(Burnaby South) have a lot of weapons, and they take advantage of all the different players who can score.”
Led by tourney MVP Dominic Parolin, the Coquitlam crew kept pace through much of the opening 15 minutes, going on a 9-2 run early in the second quarter to pull within a point.
But Burnaby South, cued by Jareb Pineda’s three-pointer, would catch fire and closed the half with an 18-5 roll to lead 42-28 at halftime.
After the Rebels pushed the lead to 20 points, Centennial came back and finished the third quarter with a 15-10 stretch. A key trigger to that rally was Burnaby South’s Sasha Vujisic drawing his third foul just 1:15 into the quarter, then taking a seat until the final frame. In the fourth quarter, the cushion remained large until the Cents once again garnered some momentum on a 16-5 burst, including a pair of treys from Braeden Markiewicz and Leif Skelding.
They’d narrow the gap to six points when all-star Paul Didenko drained a pair of free throws, but couldn’t inch closer.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole. We battled back a little in the third quarter and then again let them go on a bit of a run. I thought in the fourth quarter we started to play with a bit of desperation,” said Sollero.
Parolin, who tallied a game-high 37 points including four three-pointers, was a one-man wrecking crew. Burnaby South, however, was able to contain most of the other Centaurs.
Markiewicz finished with 11 points, while Skelding contributed 10 points.
“Dom’s a battler, as you saw today,” noted Burnaby South coach Mike Bell. “He just wouldn’t go away. That’s why he won the MVP and if you look at stats sheet I’m pretty sure it says a lot of twos and threes beside his number. He filled that stats sheet pretty well. We have to do a better job on him I’d have to say.”
It was the third meeting between the two squads, and Sollero said it provided a glimpse into just what the squad needs to bring to the provincial championships at the Langley Events Centre.
“We were talking in the lineup for awards and saying how we need to play like we did in the fourth quarter. We had a decent start, (down just) 17-14 after the first quarter, but we need to play with more desperation against them,” remarked the coach.
To get to the North zone final, Centennial knocked off league rival Heritage Woods 74-55 on Friday.
The Terry Fox Ravens also qualified for the provincials, by defeating Dr. Charles Best, 89-70, to finish in third place.