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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Churchill and MacLeod share basketball bragging rights
by Randy Pascal

Coach and school principal Dave Farrow was anxious to get the Churchill Chargers intermediate girls basketball team over the hump, and elementary sensation Claudia Pellerin was just the person to help make it happen.

Settling for silver medals four times in the past eleven years, and with no championship banners secured for the New Sudbury girls during that time, the Chargers were back for another crack on Wednesday, battling the Lo-Ellen Park Elementary Knights on their home court.

Undaunted, and powered by a 27 point performance from Pellerin, the Churchill crew upended the Knights 39-26, making amends for a gold medal loss to R.L Beattie one year ago.

"This is an absolutely fantastic moment," noted Farrow, with excitement, following the game. "I've won a boys championship before, but never with the girls. And I have to give a big shout out to Jenn Bourget and the Lo-Ellen girls. They are such a class act."

Rounding out the scoring for Churchill were Isabella Martelli (6), McKenna Howard (2), Aliyah Whalen (2) and Elaina Allen (2), with the Knights featuring a much more balanced attack, across the board.

Charlotte Church (6), Ali Bertrim (5), Kyra Mallory (5), Isabelle Maki (4), Elliot Tissot (2), Jazmin Fergani (2) and Lexi Johnson (2) all hit the scoreboard in a losing cause.

One of a small handful of Churchill players eligible to return next year, Elaina Allen was simply thankful for the team that created the 2017 run. "I feel like we had a really big connection this year," she said.

"We're all like sisters, all really close, we could all count on each other. I just know that they can help me out on the court." Like many of the young ladies who took to the floor on Wednesday, Allen benefits from club basketball experience on the side, allowing for a much more rapid progression of her natural skill-set.

"I think I'm a lot better at controlling the ball," she noted. "A couple of years ago, I was really shaky with the ball, and would pass it away right away. Now, I have more control and I can do more stuff with the ball."

Emma Lamoureux, one of the four remaining athletes on the championship roster (Tristen Aikia-Lauzon, Monikah Sabourin and Sara Fox were the others), admitted that slowing down the Lo-Ellen attack was at least as important as the Chargers ability to put points on the board, when all was said and done.

"We focused on defense and tried to make sure to have no fouls," she said. "We got a couple in there, but we really couldn't help it." As for the time and effort that was needed to reach their end goal, Lamoureux has no second thoughts about just how rewarding the journey was in the end.

"We practiced lots on our shots, lots on our plays, did lots of layup drills," she said. "We just kept working harder and harder to get to this point." Looking to complete the sweep, the Churchill boys struggled to get untracked early, trailing the MacLeod Mustangs 24-8 at the half, and eventually losing by a final score of 41-24.

After just slipping past the Chargers by a single basket in round robin play, the Mustangs went to school on their opponents prior to the rematch. "They were all over us in the second half of that first game," said Max McCue, who shared game-high scoring honours with teammate Charlie Hennessy, each with 14 points.

"Our defense was much better this time, boxing out on free throws, just our all around defense," McCue added. "We studied their plays, so we knew where the picks were coming from."

Joining McCue and Hennessy on the scoresheet were Luke Max (6), Dax Mazzuchin (4), Cameron Shanks (2) and William Laframboise (1), with Christopher Deluisa, Eran Bursey, Mohammed Q, Austin Mashinter, Findley Stevens, Josh Stagg and coach Aaron Ayotte rounding out the MacLeod roster.

"We had really good chemistry," stated McCue. "We've played together for three years now, or something like that, we know how each other play, and we put that into our game."

Chris Innes (9), Brett Bond (7), Dulain Abeyratne (3), Calum Passi (2), Jonah Norrie (1), Keonrie Layne (1) and Sebastian Drew (1) all managed to chip in with points for Churchill coach Rob Risto.

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