SINGAPORE - Stunned by a surprise loss to Ngee Ann Secondary School in a quarter-final round-robin match, North Vista Secondary School were determined not to be "complacent" and let history repeat itself.
They did just that in the boys' B Division basketball final at Our Tampines Hub on Wednesday (April 17), avenging the earlier defeat by beating the same opponents 68-66 for their fourth consecutive title.
North Vista had lost 54-46 to Ngee Ann in a round-robin match at the quarter-final stage, which features two groups of four teams each.
They bounced back to qualify for the semi-finals as the second-placed team behind Ngee Ann in their group and went on to beat Dunman Secondary School, the top-placed team from the other group, 51-39 in the last four.
Ngee Ann, meanwhile, narrowly pipped Unity Secondary School 66-65 in the other semi-final.
North Vista's shooting guard Sim Yi, 16, who scored 20 points, was delighted that his team managed to redeem themselves in the final.
"We were complacent in the quarter-final round-robin match. 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 Ngee Ann 17-13 after the first quarter, North Vista's quality and experience told in the second quarter as Sim Yi scored eight points in a row to put his team 21-17 up.
They finished the second quarter with a narrow 34-30 lead and extended their advantage to 50-45 at the end of the third quarter.
The North Vista boys increased their tempo in the last quarter to widen the lead to 59-49, but their opponents then 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 to prevail 68-66.
North Vista's basketball teacher-in-charge Hee Yuen Bao credited his charges for battling back after falling behind in the first quarter.
"The other team had a better shooting accuracy (in the first quarter), 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."
North Vista 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."
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Ngee Ann captain Maran Markus, 17, was proud of his team for making their first final and pushing 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 girls' B Division final, Singapore Chinese Girls' School retained their title with a 44-40 victory over Nanyang Girls' High School.