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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Ontario Cup gold for Jam basketball boys
by Randy Pascal

Separated by nearly 400 kilometers or so, the Sudbury Jam U17 (Juvenile) and U19 (Junior) boys basketball teams shared a common bond last weekend.

Both teams entered their Ontario Cup Division #3 playdowns as the top ranked entries in their eight squad fields, and both exited their respective events in exactly the same slot.

Opening tournament play at St Catharines Collegiate, the U17 Jam benefitted from a great overall defensive effort, helping to neutralize a notable 6'5" inside presence while recording a 73-63 win over the Centre Wellington Celtics.

Welcoming three newcomers to the team this year, the Sudbury crew continued to display outstanding ball distribution, receiving scoring from all facets of their lineup and improving to 2-0 with a 63-55 victory over the (Ajax) Gladiators.

The first real pushback for the northern lads came in game three, a contest that was tied 20-20 at the half, and saw the Jam trailing by four points early in the third quarter. "We called a timeout and adjusted a few things on defence," noted head coach Denis Lessard.

"The boys came out refocused, determined to take control of the game, and went on a 20-0 run to finish the quarter." As the final buzzer sounded, the Jam had guaranteed their berth in the gold medal game, toppling the Ottawa Shooting Stars 66-59.

A fitting final would pit the Sudbury side against the IEM East Gwillimbury, an opponent they have come to know all too well over the years. "There is a lot of history between the teams," said Lessard.

"It was important to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand." A very quick paved the way, with the Jam up by twenty at the half and securing their gold medals with a 69-57 triumph over their southern rivals.

"With three new kids on the roster, the vets were committed to helping the new guys get up to speed and, as the season progressed, we got better and better with every practice and tournament," summarized Lessard.

"We are not extremely tall, but we are extremely quick and equipped with some great shooting guards and some great finishers at the rim. The boys executed the game plan really well."

The 2017-2018 edition of the Sudbury U17 Jam boys team featured Liam Nelson, Mathieu Michel, Abraham Soumahoro, Stelios Evangelou, Anthony Rogerson, Miguel Poulin, Cédric Lessard, Felix Tubin, Alex Lebrun and coaches Denis Lessard and Martin Nadeau.

The story on the Sudbury Jam U19 gold medal performance is to follow shortly.

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