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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Two pools of basketball talent Jammed together as one
by Randy Pascal

Bringing together players from two former teams, coaches John Desormeaux and Rick Filion could not have asked for a much more productive marriage of basketball talent as the Sudbury Jam U19 Girls prepare for provincials this weekend in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Ranked seventh in the province, the squad has cracked the Division #1 bracket, joining the Ottawa Youth Elite, Basketball Wallaceburg and the Oakville Vytis in Pool "B" round robin play.

"We were looking at this year as a building year," confessed Filion at practice earlier this week. "We had some players leave and some other ones come in. We weren't expecting to end up ranked 7th in the province."

The 2017-2018 Jam U19 crew brings together a trio of players who were members of the U19 teams the past two years (Ariane Saumure, Mélanie Cloutier, Harmony Martel) and Filion's U16 squad that slid into the Division 3 grouping at Ontario Cup 2017.

"We participated in four different tournaments down south and saw some real quality opposition," said Filion. "As coaches, we were really impressed with the level of play our girls brought to the game. Extra court awareness, the extra year of maturity has really helped this team get to where they need to be."

That progression has already been rewarded, on an individual basis, for a pair of Jam teammates. A soon-to-be graduate of Lockerby Composite, Martel has been recruited by the Laurentian Voyageurs, and will now balance her academic pursuits in Kinesiology with the demands of varsity athletics.

Hers has been a slow and steady march up the basketball development charts over the course of the past four years. "Personally, for myself, I wanted to improve my aggressiveness, really attacking the basket and finishing more," said Martel.

"My coaches, from grade nine to grade 12, have told me that I need to take charge, demand the basketball. I've definitely been focusing on that, taking on more leadership." Competing with a roster that will run just seven deep when the Jam take to the court later today, the Sudbury girls will try and make the best of the skill-set at hand.

"We have a lot of people that John (Desormeaux) likes to call "tweeners", players who can play multiple positions," stated Martel. "We can be creative, we don't need to stick to one thing. We're going to be playing a lot of aggressive teams, and you have to have confidence when you play, you can't hesitate."

That task will not be made any easier with the absence of Saumure, out of the lineup for the weekend. "She brings this team a lot of speed," admitted coach Filion. "With Ariane out, we will change our style of defense to adapt to what we have on the court. The key this weekend will be all about controlling the pace of the game."

With that in mind, Martel and fellow point guard Kate Dahmer will look to handle the additional responsibility that comes their way. The 16 year old grade 11 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School is confident that she and her teammates are up to the challenge.

"We've all played at that intensity," said Dahmer. "We're definitely going to have some really good competition that makes us work together as a team. Our ability to come back in games and turn on the intensity has been good. If we're down, we know when we need to step up."

Still, a big part of the success the Jam might enjoy at provincials lies in the likelihood that a defensive scheme they have been attempting to perfect since their very first practice comes together at the best possible time of year.

"It's kind of a new concept, we've been working on it all year," said Dahmer. "The angling is tricky, making sure we know how to stop them from penetrating the key." With two groups coming together as one, the timing could be perfect.

"This defense involves really working together," suggested Martel. And that is a lesson the U19 Jam have been learning all season long.

The balance of the Sudbury Jam U19 2017-2018 roster includes Arielle Douillette, Aneisha Rismond, Josée Filion, Mia Filion and Briana Gagnon.

Joining Martel in making the jump to the OUA ranks in September will be Mélanie Cloutier, who recently announced her commitment to the Western Mustangs program in London.

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