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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Pre-tournament seeding slots ESMC into a bronze medal win
by Randy Pascal

It's entirely possible that the second best team at the 2018 OFSAA “A” Girls Basketball Championships in North Bay returned home with the third best medal.

Though very proud of a second straight bronze medal performance by his team, and extremely conscious of not wanting to disrespect any of his opponents, Macdonald-Cartier head coach Sebastien Gervais was extremely forthcoming in answering the question of whether he felt the Panthères were the second best team at the tournament.

“I think deep down inside, personally, if you're asking me to be brutally honest, I really thought that we were the second seed,” he said.

Unfortunately, despite finishing third at the 2017 championship and returning almost their entire roster from last fall, the NOSSA champs were slotted in to the #4 seeding, a placement that forced the team to play the two time gold medal winning champion O'Gorman Knights from Timmins (#1 seed and defending OFSAA champions) in the semi-finals.

In spite of a very slow start, Macdonald-Cartier rallied, falling just short in dropping a 41-37 decision to their northern rivals. O'Gorman then went on to knock off Lajeunesse (#3 seed), 49-39, in the final, while the Panthères picked up another OFSAA bronze medal souvenir thanks to a 61-44 triumph over Woodland Christian High School, the team that was seeded second entering play last Thursday.

“I really thought we were the second best team, and I know that every coach who was seeded in three, four or five is probably going to have the same opinion,” said Gervais. In fact, tournament scuttlebutt in North Bay suggested that as many as six different teams indicated in their pre-tournament fact sheet that their team should be slotted in at number two, behind O'Gorman.

In the end, Gervais was thankful, in a sense, that bouncing back from a tough loss to O'Gorman was not all that difficult with third place in the province still up for grabs. “It wasn't too hard to motivate the girls in getting ready for that game (vs Woodland),” he noted. “It was more about ensuring that they gave it the energy and intensity it deserved.”

“We wanted to make sure we had enough in the tank left to challenge Woodland Christian, because they have an amazing coach.” Macdonald-Cartier had opened with wins over Nouvelle Alliance (59-22) and Nicholson (57-29), cruising through the quarter-finals with a 55-25 win over Villanova.

Arielle Douillette topped the Panthères scoring parade in each of the last two games, netting 14 vs O'Gorman, with Ariane Saumure and Clara Yanchuk adding 14 and nine respectively. In the bronze medal encounter, it was Douillette (14), Dayna Fairwell (8) and Saumure (7) leading the way.

All in all, it's been quite a stretch for a core of Panthères who have enjoyed three consecutive trips to OFSAA. “Macdonald-Cartier is a very small school,” noted graduating senior Arielle Douillette. “A lot of us have classes together, we see each other pretty much all day. We're friends not only on the basketball court, but off the basketball court as well. We have that extra relationship.

It was a special connection that was certainly displayed, at various times in North Bay. “It really helped us to run our plays with players that had been together for a while,” said Douillette. “We knew who we had to hit for that shot, we knew whose going to get us a steal. That experience came in handy.”

The OFSAA bronze medal winning team also included Kaitlyn Winn, Callie Moore, Lexine Moyle, Cloé Douillette and Mila Coco.

The Lasalle Lancers senior boys volleyball team also entered OFSAA playdowns with podium hopes, only to realize pretty quickly that the path to glory had grown increasingly more difficult in recent years.

Seeded fourth entering the OFSAA Boys “AA” Championship in Sydenham, the Lancers bested the St Mary Thunder (17th seed) 25-20, 25-16, and the Monsignor Percy Johnson Jaguars (10th) 25-15, 27-25, but were beaten in pool play by both the host Sydenham Golden Eagles (13th) 21-25, 20-25 and the Essex Red Raiders (7th) 25-22, 19-25, 12-15.

“This was the best OFSAA I have been too, the boys that have been there could not believe how good the competition was,” acknowledged head coach Dale Beausoleil. “There were so many upsets, it was crazy. We ended up playing St Mike's, the number three seed, in the consolation final.”

In fact, rather than dwell on what could have been, the Lancers approached their trek into the consolation bracket with a sense of resolve, downing the Thornlea Thunder from Thornhill in four sets (27-25, 23-25, 25-12, 25-20) and defeating the Westgate Tigers in four sets as well.

Unfortunately, with a bout of the flu running through parts of their roster, the Lancers had little left to do battle with the St Michael's Warriors, beaten in straight sets by the Stratford squad. “I was impressed with how much our team improved over the course of the tournament, because we had to match what was going on,” added Beausoleil.

“Basically, it was our team learning how to play side out ball, point for point. That was the biggest thing. A lot of times, we don't have to do that in this city and NOSSA. There are more runs. At times, we struggled with it, but as the tournament progressed, things got better.”

The Lo-Ellen Park Knights senior boys team, with only one player scheduled to graduate next summer, looked upon the 2018 OFSAA “AAA” Boys Volleyball Championship as a learning experience.

Learn they did, the Knights unable to hit the win column in their first trip to the high school tournament in some four to five years. Lo-Ellen fell to the St Marcellinus Spirit from Mississauga (14-25, 11-25), the Neil McNeil Maroons from Toronto (14-25, 15-25), the St Peter's Knights from Ottawa (20-25-, 25-20, 9-15) and the Ancaster Royals (17-25, 21-25).

Finally, a very young Lo-Ellen Park Knights senior girls basketball team had nothing to hang their heads about, walking away from a very respectable 1-2 showing at the 2018 OFSAA “AA” Championships in London.

The Knights kicked things off with a 57-40 win over the Birchmount Park Panthers, with Kate Dahmer showing the way offensively and Izzy Maki earning the Pride, Hustle, Determination (PHD) award. A very familiar face awaited them 24 hours as Lo-Ellen was trimmed 44-40 by the Thériault Flammes from Timmins, with Arianna Ghorbani singled out for the PHD accolades.

Relegated to the consolation quarter-finals, the Knights were eliminated, 51-43, losing to the St Paul's Wolverines from Mississauga, as Kate Dahmer walked away with a little extra hardware, awarded the PHD honours.

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