Fourth quarter run powers Lancers past the Knights
by Randy Pascal
Just over one week ago, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights senior boys basketball team dropped a tight 46-45 decision to the Lasalle Lancers.
This past Tuesday, in the rematch at Lasalle, the Lancers and Knights were tied at 37-37 late in quarter three. That, however, was before the long-time
SDSSAA basketball powerhouse absolutely exploded for a 34-13 run as the five-time defending champs improved to 6-0 with a 71-50 win over their south-end
"I think they may have run out of gas, a little bit, and we stepped it up defensively, started getting a few steals here and there," noted Lasalle head
coach Joel Rehel, who takes over primary control of the team with his long-time bench partner Kyel Beers having moved on to a position with
the Sudbury Five.
Good defense, yes, but a run that was aided by an impressive outburst from game leading scorer Michael Babcock, who recorded 16 of his 28 point output in
the fourth quarter alone, including a stretch of three straight baskets from beyond the arc.
Rehel, however, was even more impressed with what he was seeing at the other end of the court, some improvement that was necessary and identified after
the one point victory his team registered at the home of the Knights.
"I didn't like the way we played our one-three-one press (in that game), and I had a friend of mine, Mr (Denis) Gauthier, help me out with two
strong practices, teaching the boys the proper rotation at the back," said Rehel. "That helped immensely this game."
For the most part, the rematch had remained close, throughout, the homeside jumping out to an early 11-2 lead, but Lo-Ellen clawing back to trail by
three after the first quarter (15-12), and by just four at the half (32-28).
Behind the Babcock flurry of hoops, the winners were led by Liam LaPierre and Brennan LaPierre, with 12 and 10 points respectively, while
Andrew Middleton added eight before rolling his ankle, sidelined to the bench for the final eight minutes or so of the game.
Fraser Larocque and Abraham Soumahoro showed the way in a losing cause for Lo-Ellen, netting 12 points apiece, while Callum Bruser
added nine, but was held off the scoresheet completely in the second half.
All in all, Rehel is liking the look of his team. "Three or four years ago, we were more of a two or three man team, a couple of superstars and a bunch
of role players," he said. "This year, we don't really have a superstar, but we have five, six, seven, eight guys who are all solid, very solid basketball
players, very intelligent."
The reality is that the Lancers will need every bit of that balance in their roster, with the league contenders expanded to at least a handful of teams
"The league is very strong," said Rehel. "I think it's awesome having four or five strong teams. I even hear it from my players. They get up for these games
against Lo-Ellen, against Notre-Dame, against Lockerby."
They may need to add the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères to that list as well, as coach Ron Poulin and company improved to 5-2 on Thursday,
crowning the Knights 52-44. As for the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes (4-1), coach Martin Nadeau's troops are enduring a very busy stretch of
basketball, squeezing some key league games between a pair of tournament appearances.
The senior Alouettes were one of several SDSSAA teams which took part in the North Bay tradition that is the Arthur Gabor Tournament last weekend,
making their way to the final before settling for silver thanks to a 57-47 loss at the hands of the O'Gorman Knights.
The teams were tied at 11-11 after eight minutes of play, but O'Gorman pulled away in quarter two, outscoring CND 21-2, and withstanding a late rally
from the locals, who drew to within seven in the fourth.
Maxim Dumais (Notre-Dame) and Parker Gilbert (O'Gorman) were named game MVPs, with the latter leading all scorers with 16 points. Eric
Atoh was at the top of the Alouettes' scoring parade, recording 14 points, as the team continues to anxiously await the return of shooting sensation
Félix Tubin, out of action with an injury since the beginning of the season.
Still, Nadeau has to be pleased with the pipeline of talent that is coming his way. The junior Alouettes picked up a home court victory on Tuesday,
beating the Lockerby Vikings 62-26, with Matt Coutu (19 pts - including ten straight in the third quarter), Wesley Miller (8) and
Jonah Rousselle (7) all jumping into the frey with regularity.
Coming off a Division "A" quarter-final setback in North Bay, the CND lads are beginning to show signs of mixing it up with the Sudbury big boys. "We
started doing our right plays, and our team chemistry really went up," noted Miller, citing some of the primary benefits of the weekend spent together at the Gabor
"We played pretty good," continued the 15 year old grade 10 student. "Our ball movement was key, and we were hitting open men." Like most of the area
schools, a concerted effort between all age brackets within a particular sports program at a school can pay huge dividends right across the board.
"We watch them (the seniors) during tournaments, we cheer them on," said Miller. "We're really close with our midget team and our senior team. The senior
coach likes us to learn the same plays that he uses so that he doesn't have to teach us all of the plays when we get there."
Tournament action this weekend sees the Bishop Carter Gators hosting their annual December tournament in the Valley, while the Notre-Dame seniors
are off to Barrie, taking part in an event being hosted by Georgian College.