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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
NOSSA weekend produces a quartet of local OFSAA qualifiers
by Randy Pascal

There will be a very familiar look to the Sudbury high school fall sports delegation travelling to OFSAA tournaments later this week.

The Lasalle Lancers' boys volleyball team will head to Kingston on Wednesday, the fourth consecutive year that the New Sudbury school will have claimed the right to represent NOSSA (Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics) at the OFSAA “AA” Boys Volleyball Championship.

Coach Sebastien Gervais and the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères can draw on experience from OFSAA playdowns in both 2016 and 2017, looking for even better things when play begins in North Bay on Thursday at the Girls “A” Basketball Championship.

And despite fielding a team that now competes in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association, the remaining talent on hand donning the Lo-Ellen Park Knights' senior girls basketball jerseys can boast of extending their school record to five straight OFSAA appearances when they take to the court Thursday in London at the Girls “AA” Championship.

Rounding out the field of local entries and making their first OFSAA appearance in a few years are the Lo-Ellen Knights senior boys volleyball team, progressing nicely under new head coach James Schweyer.

All of this and more was confirmed at venues across the north as no less than 16 different NOSSA banners were up for grabs.

For Dale Beausoleil, the Lancers boys' victory marks a return to provincials after giving way to Scott Thomas, at the helm, for a two year stretch. This also marked seven straight city banners, split between the junior and senior ranks at Lasalle. A 25-15, 25-9, 25-23 sweep of the Widdifield Wildcats from North Bay provided ample proof that Beausoleil is working his magic, yet again, with another core group of talent.

“In the round robin, we played OK,” he said. “But when we got to the finals, the boys played outstanding the first two sets. It's the best I've seen them block this year.” Expecting to graduate only two players from this team, Beausoleil is comfortable taking a crew to OFSAA that offers something of a mixed bag.

“There is still a lack of experience with this team,” he said. “There's times where I feel that we are playing really well, but then we see the inexperience, the mistakes.” Still, the skill set of the Lancers was not lost on the team that most benefitted from their regular competition.

“We played tough matches, all year, against Lasalle,” noted coach Schweyer of Lo-Ellen, after the Knights disposed of the Chippewa Raiders in four sets in the NOSSA senior “AAA” final. “Those were good learning opportunities for these guys. At NOSSA, I thought we started to play real defense – the guys were diving, hitting the floor, recycling balls. I hadn't seen that consistently all year until the finals against Chippewa.”

The junior Lancers walked away with a little extra hardware of their own, splitting their first two sets with Lo-Ellen before taking the third, 15-10, to earn “AA” NOSSA gold, while the Horizon Aigles juniors also capped off an outstanding season, one which would see coaches Guy Perreault and Jean-Gilles Lemieux and their team follow up an undefeated regular season schedule (7-0) with a win in the city final, leading into NOSSA playdowns in Elliot Lake last Friday.

Round robin victories over the Elliot Lake Atoms, Espanola Spartans and Algonquin Barons set the stage for a rematch, in the final, with the host team. The lads were up to the challenge, outscoring Elliot Lake 25-17, 25-19.

In fact, the squad that included Alex Giguère, Tristan Despatie, Jakob Hinich, Cédrick Jutras, Ben Lacroix, Caleb Lamontagne, Mathieu Lemieux, Callum Patterson, Noah Perreault, Gavin Roy, Jordan Trottier and Yanick Loiselle took home the banner in three of the five tournaments that they entered, earning silver in the remaining two.

On the basketball side of the equation, Lo-Ellen senior Kate Dahmer could not have picked a better time to go off unlike any other game in her life. Netting an astounding 42 points, Dahmer would lead the Knights to a 61-49 win over the Korah Colts in the NOSSA “AA” final in Sault Ste Marie, returning a very different looking purple and gold crew to what has become an annual November destination.

Noting that she had a “huge adrenaline rush” at the start of the game, Dahmer went on to acknowledge to Postmedia that “scoring wise, it's the best game of my life. But all the scoring is a blur.” One that head coach Lisa Carruthers welcomed with open arms. “She took control of the game, as we've been telling her she could, all season,” she said.

“She was lights out,” Carruthers added. “It didn't matter where she was on the floor or who was in her face.” As it turns out, Korah was the scene of another Sudbury sweep as the Lo-Ellen juniors, paced by an 18-point performance from Lauren Fearn, topped the St Joseph Scollard Hall Bears from North Bay, 52-44.

The Lock City was also a wonderful host for the local contingent competing in the NOSSA “A” Girls Basketball tournament at White Pines Secondary School. After opening with a win over the Algonquin Barons from North Bay, the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères seniors stopped the Central Algoma Huskies, 58-26, behind a one-two punch of Arielle and Cloé Douillette, with 16 and 14 points respectively.

The city champs then showcased the depth of their scoring balance in a second showdown with Algonquin, earning gold with a 58-29 win with a scoring parade that was spearheaded by Ariane Saumure (14 pts), Cloé Douillette (12) and Clara Yanchuk (10). The output for the latter was particularly pleasing, given that has committed to the Sault College Cougars basketball program for next fall.

Sudbury junior teams were front and center on a couple of other fronts. With Alanna Lahay in her second year at the helm, the Macdonald-Cartier youngsters ascended to the ranks of NOSSA champions, stifling the White Pines Wolverines 25-11 in Sault Ste Marie.

“We had a bunch of girls that had versatility and were able to perform under pressure, which is fantastic,” stated Lahay. “Our post, Jenna Walker, was stellar throughout the entire season, while Zoe Smith was our three point shooter. She made five threes in one game at NOSSA.”

Of course, it didn't hurt to have the senior Panthères providing a pretty solid example of how things should be done. “My girls look up to the seniors and how they practice,” said Lahay. “They look at girls that are so motivated and working hard, and they want to be able to perform like they do.”

Rounding out the ESMC junior roster are Isabelle Fredette, Alexei Dokis-Dupuis, Karyne Villeneuve, Ella Kissner, Bianca Ricard, Claudie Lafrenière, Katie Pilon and assistant coach John Coppes.

No stranger to the local basketball scene, Lasalle junior girls basketball coach Bruce Cowtan rallied his team from a tough loss in the city final to Lo-Ellen, defeating the St Mary's Knights by four baskets or so with NOSSA medals on the line.

“I had an excellent young bunch of athletes, really dedicated, and who really, really gelled as a team,” said Cowtan. “I had three returning grade tens who are not club players but that are definitely leaders, on and off the floor. They played their best basketball of the year this weekend.”

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