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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Success at the core of Pantheres basketball
by Randy Pascal

One more year of experience and a slightly different look in the interior of the key has the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères senior girls basketball team believing that they can definitely improve on a good thing.

Returning the bulk of the core that earned bronze at the 2017 OFSAA "A" Championships in Brockville, and welcoming a newcomer to the role as the "big" on the team, the Panthères will travel to North Bay for the 2018 tournament, intent on making a move up the ranks.

"We have a couple of young players, but they are very skilled," said veteran Ariane Saumure, making her third straight appearance at high school provincials and enjoying some piece of mind, having made a verbal commitment to the Western Mustangs for 2019.

"We have a really good post presence in Cloé Douillette and that changes the game a bit for us. We have already met some of the teams, and some of us have matured even more since last year and we can be even better leaders."

Among the opposition that is sure to provide a test comes a familiar northern face that Macdonald-Cartier has battled before. "O'Gorman (Timmins) is really good competition, they really push us," said Saumure. "We knew after that game what we needed to work on, where we had to improve."

Like Saumure, teammate Clara Yanchuk moves on to the post-secondary ranks next fall, recently signing on with the Sault College Cougars of the OCAA, a decision that she was pleased to make after staying on for a fifth and final season with the Panthères.

"I always knew I wanted to go to college over university," said the 18 year old three point specialist. "There is no college in Sudbury that has basketball, so I knew that I had to move away. Last year, I didn't really look around, because I knew that I was doing a victory lap (fifth year of high school)."

We had a tournament there (in Sault Ste Marie) and they got a chance to see me play. I did a tour of the school and not only does their basketball seem right for me, it's all of the programs that they have to offer."

As for the skill-set that she will bring to the table as a member of the Cougars, Yanchuk is still tinkering with her strength. "Everybody's shot is a little different, making adjustments can really help," she said. "I always try and tuck in my elbow when I shoot."

"A lot of times, I stick it out, and when I stick it out, I notice that my shot is off." With Saumure, Yanchuk and a handful of others leaving ESMC come next June, head coach Sebastien Gervais is hoping to take full advantage of the base of knowledge that has accumulated within his core group, prior to their departure.

"We benefit a little from knowing what to expect," he said. "We have a little more experience, both for myself as a coach, as well as the players. We had the same core for the past three years. We know what to expect, the type of intensity, just being prepared for the games, knowing you might need a play or two in your back pcket to break a mini run or something."

That said, Gervais is nothing if not appreciative of the run this group of Macdonald-Cartier student athletes have enjoyed in recent years. "I've been blessed in the sense that I have kept the same team," he said. "There hasn't been too many disruptions to the core."

"They've had the ability to play together, both with the high school team and the club, so there's definitely some additional development. And it's not just me developing this team. There are other coaches in other organizations that have had a hand in bringing all of these girls to the level they are at.

"It's been kind of a team effort."

Rounding out the Macdonald-Cartier 2018 roster are Arielle Douillette, Dayna Fairwell, Kaitlyn Winn, Callie Moore, Lexine Moyle and Mila Coco.

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