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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Close win over Orillia vaults Jam U19 boys to gold medal
by Randy Pascal

The Sudbury Jam U19 men's team were not about to let their traditionally slow Friday start to southern Ontario weekend tournaments stand in the way of their pursuit of gold.

Participating in the 2018 Ontario Cup provincial playdowns in Kingston late last month, the Jam overcame a game one loss to reel off three straight wins, capturing gold in the Division #3 bracket.

"Friday games have always been difficult for most Sudbury teams, given the distance that we have to travel," said Sudbury head coach Ron Poulin. "Our game on Friday was at 4:30 p.m., and we were at the gym almost two hours prior to the start of the game."

Try as they might, the Jam were still on the wrong side of the final scoreboard, dropping a 67-63 decision to the Kitchener-Waterloo Vipers. That would be their one and only loss. Early Saturday morning, the northern crew rebounded with a 67-52 win over the Toronto Lords, with Michael Babock leading the way with 22 points.

He would have plenty of help, with Nathan Scully (11), Brandon Kucey (9), Jacob Lamontagne (8) and Yanic Poulin (8) all chipping in offensively, from time to time.

The Jam just kept charging forward later that afternoon, stopping the Toronto Triple Threat 77-61, with Scully going off with no less than 33 points by the time the final buzzer sounded. Coach Poulin, however, was quick to highlight a defensive turning point in the encounter.

"Jack Derrenbacker dove to the floor, creating a turnover, and that sparked the team in the second half," said Poulin. Babcock and Poulin netted 12 and nine points respectively for Sudbury, who finished tied with the Lords at 2-1, but advanced to the championship final, thanks to their head to head triumph.

Facing the Orillia Hawks in the gold medal affair, the locals overcame some in-game challenges, pulling out a 61-58 victory. When Derrenbacker broke his nose in the second quarter of play, fatigue within the eight player roster became a concern.

"Great team defensive play and strong rebounding by Brandon Kucey helped us overcome this obstacle," said Poulin. Showing the way offensively were Babcock (16), Scully (15), Poulin (7) and Lamontagne (7), with Ke'Andre Willis and Robert (R.J.) Watson rounding out the team roster.

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