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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Pantheres bounce back on city championship weekend
by Randy Pascal

It could be argued that the best thing to happen to the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères senior girls basketball team, in the past week or so, was dropping their regular season finale to the Lo-Ellen Park Knights last Tuesday.

It was certainly a very fired up Panthères crew that hit the floor on their home court as the teams met, yet again, in the city final.

With only those two schools opting to compete in Division 1 this fall, the teams met with regularity the past few months. The defending OFSAA “A” bronze medallists (ESMC) had gotten the better of their south end rivals by an average of 15 points per game, prior to losing 52-46 to the Knights in their final regular season outing.

“I think it really motivated us to push further and not underestimate them,” noted grade 10 post Cloé Douillette, who dropped 15 points in helping to lead Macdonald-Cartier to a 55-30 win on Saturday in the SDSSAA grand finale. “They are a really good team, but I think if we push harder and play like we can, we are the better team. I think we showed that today.”

“It just made us work harder,” agreed veteran Dayna Fairwell, who is looking towards attending Laurentian University as she completes her final year of high school at ESMC this year. “There wasn't enough effort the last game, so we really pushed ourselves in this game, which was a lot more important.”

Building up a 15-10 first quarter lead, the Panthères benefitted from an 11-0 run to open the second quarter. The offense was nicely distributed, with Fairwell (12 pts), Ariane Saumure (11) and Clara Yanchuk (9) all stepping up at various times, while Ellie Tissot and Katrina Thai paced the Knights with seven and six points respectively.

Also a highly accomplished box lacrosse goaltender, Cloe Douillette is suiting up with the senior team for the first time this fall, bringing a key element of size to compensate for the loss of Sophie Laforest and Megan Hicks from the 2017 team. “I love playing both sports, I think both are pretty equal,” said Douillette. “With both sports, I try and play a leadership role, even though I am younger.”

While the Panthères have no lack of solid outside shooters, the team displayed a knack for knifing into the heavy contact areas, with both Saumure and Fairwell scoring with some consistency while cutting to the basket. “I cradle the ball, so that no one can come in and reach,” said Fairwell, discussing her willingness to welcome contact in the paint.

“I have ankle braces so that if I step on someone's ankle, I'm not afraid of rolling my ankles. They're pretty stable. You use different moves – a spin dribble, a euro step – and you just get more comfortable as you do it more and more often.”

Rounding out the Panthères gold medal winning roster were Arielle Douillette, Kaitlyn Winn, Mila Cocco, Callie Moore and Lexine Moyle.

The Lo-Ellen Park Juniors salvaged a measure of revenge, though not against the same opponent, overcoming a 21-14 deficit to the Lasalle Lancers, at the half, before posting a 47-39 come from behind victory to secure the Division 1 banner. Annika Best (13), Lauren Fearn (11) and Briele Bisaillon (8) topped the scoring parade for the Knights, while Jasmine Savignac (11) and Elaina Allen (7) showed the way for Lasalle.

The championship winning Lo-Ellen crew also includes Ali Bertrim, Asma Bilgasem, Mackenzie Erwin, Jazmin Fergani, Mia Jermyn, Carling Kuhlberg, Jenna Legault, Monika Sabourin, Lauren Tower, Kaya Walia and Dorian Xilon.

Lo-Ellen had a chance for a sweep on Saturday as the midget Knights set the tone with a 47-24 triumph over the Champlain Requins, thanks in part to a 17-point effort from Kayla Hamilton. The Lasalle senior girls claimed the Division 2 bragging rights on Friday, downing the Confederation Chargers 50-31. Hailey Wydra netted 18 points for the winners, while Mekayla Layne chipped in with 13. Autumn Pegelo countered with 18 for the Chargers.

Over at Cambrian College, a whole other set of Confederation athletes were enjoying a measure of success as the junior boys volleyball crew swept past Champlain 25-12, 25-23 and 25-15 in the Division “B” final. Despite only returning three grade ten athletes from their 2017 lineup, the Chargers melded quickly into a winning formation.

“I knew that we were all really skilled,” admitted grade 10 student and Valley View product Braeden Lewis. “We're all really good friends, as you can see, with everyone dancing behind us. We kind of knew each other from when we played against each other in elementary.”

Pulling in a base of talent from CR Judd Public School in Capreol, as well as Valley View Public School and a few other schools, head coach Rémi Levasseur quickly went to work on creating a team that could contend. “We were working a lot on receiving and hitting,” suggested Lewis. “When we're in serve receive, we should get to the ball a lot. We will try and get to the ball, even if it's close to the line, and we'll dive for the ball.”

Joining Lewis in celebrating victory were teammates Dylan Rahn, Liam Desrochers, Mathew Ayotte, Matthew Bamberger, Clinton Corbett, Ethan Selk, Harrison Wilson, Troy Wilton, Cameron Mergaert and Ian Mackenzie.

Elsewhere on the volleyball front, coach Dale Beausoleil and the Lasalle Lancers senior boys racked up their fifth consecutive city “A” championship, ousting the Lo-Ellen Park Knights in four sets, 25-12, 24-26, 25-17, 25-20. The Horizon Aigles claimed the junior “A” title after capturing the “B” banner the past two years, besting the Lancers 25-23, 25-14, 25-14.

And finally, in what was perhaps the most compelling match of the day, a see-saw affair between Champlain and the Sacré-Coeur Griffons went right down to the wire, with the senior Division “B” crown on the line. In the end, the Griffons outlasted the Requins 25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-11.

The winning Division 1/A champions will now prepare for NOSSA action next weekend, with most hitting the road, though Lasalle is playing host to “AAA” girls basketball and Lo-Ellen will serve as the venue for the “AA” boys volleyball competition.

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