Three-time defending champions North Vista Secondary School were determined not to be complacent, like they were in the surprise loss to Ngee Ann Secondary School in a quarter-final round-robin match.
In the boys' B Division basketball final at Our Tampines Hub yesterday, they did just that, beating the same opponents 68-66 for their fourth consecutive title.
North Vista had lost 54-46 to Ngee Ann at the quarter-final stage, which features two groups of four each in round-robin play.
They bounced back to qualify for the last four as the second-placed team behind Ngee Ann and went on to beat Dunman Secondary School, the top team from the other group, 51-39.
Ngee Ann pipped Unity Secondary School 66-65 to reach the final for the first time.
Shooting guard Sim Yi, 16, who scored 20 points, was delighted that North Vista managed to redeem themselves in the final.
"We were complacent then. We were the stronger team, but we didn't play our hearts out and allowed them to fight back," said the Secondary 5 student. "But that loss gave us the fighting spirit to come back and win this game."
Despite trailing 17-13, their quality and experience told in the second quarter. He scored eight points in a row to put his team 21-17 up and they finished it 34-30 and extended their edge to 50-45 in the third quarter.
They increased their tempo in the last quarter to widen the lead to 59-49, but their opponents went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to 61-58.
It was neck and neck in the closing stages, but North Vista held their nerves and prevailed.
Their basketball teacher-in-charge Hee Yuen Bao credited his charges for battling back after falling behind in the first quarter.
"They had a better shooting accuracy, but we didn't let their lead get to our heads. We just tried to match them point for point," said the 34-year-old.
"During half-time, our coach reminded the boys of what they did well and told them to continue following the game plan."
His captain Chace Ng, 15, said: "I'm very proud to be in this school and to get such good achievements for four years. There was definitely pressure on us to win but we didn't let that get to us."
Ngee Ann captain Maran Markus, 17, was proud of how his team pushed North Vista all the way.
"We worked really hard during the holidays last year. We didn't expect to come this far, but we always kept our fighting spirit," said the Secondary 5 student.
In the B girls' final, Singapore Chinese Girls' School retained their title with a 44-40 victory over Nanyang Girls' High School.