Pre post-season prep for playoff bound teams
by Randy Pascal
A number of local teams were partaking in some pre post-season fine-tuning recently as Sudbury athletes remain busy here, there and everywhere.
Yep, pretty much par for the course for the stretch of sports craziness that runs from early January through until the March break.
With a first place showdown against the Lo-Ellen Park Knights scheduled for Monday and the start of the playoffs just a week away, the Collège
Notre-Dame Alouettes (7-0) senior volleyball girls could not have asked for much better timing for the annual Franco tournament.
Add to the mix that the francophone playdowns were hosted in Sudbury, minimizing team travel substantially, and the fact that coach Denny Chicoine
and the CND seniors would emerge as Division “A” champions after three very hectic days of competition, and one can see why the timing more than satisfied
the current SDSSAA leaders.
“It has been a perfect event,” said Chicoine on Sunday evening. “There were teams that we never met before, so we were trying to adapt to new styles,
different things coming at us. It kind of brought out some new talent in our team, with having to adapt.”
That, of course, is on top of expectations that were already quite peaked. “I'm really excited about the team I have this year,” said Chicoine. “I'm
expecting to go far with this team. It's a very close team, and that makes it work so well on the court.”
Well that, and a boatload of elite talent.
The team is stacked with players from both the Northern Chill 17U and 15U teams. And while any club volleyball experience is going to translate
well into the high school ranks, it's even more valuable when athletes are among the club teams that have worked their way into the “Select” division
of Ontario Volleyball Association tournament play, the second highest level in the province.
Even the expected challenges have come up smelling like roses. “My biggest fear at the beginning of the year was finding a setter,” said Chicoine. Enter
Haven Fournier, a long-time Chill member, but almost always, traditionally, suiting up in the power position.
“The first time I told her I needed her to be a setter, she looked at me with some fear, and laughed about it,” said Chicoine. “But after her first game,
she was so excited, wanting to learn everything. She jumped in with both feet.”
The Division “A” Franco gold medal winning team features Hailey Selk, Alexia Lemay-Evans, Brielle Chicoine, Josée Beauchamp, Haven Fournier,
Krystal Marcotte, Emma Lapointe, Emma Bissonnette and Katia Legros.
The Horizon Aigles also advanced to Division “A” play, but were eventually eliminated by E.S. Lajeunesse, the same team the Alouettes
defeated to win the banner. Over in Division “C”, it was an all-Sudbury final as the Champlain Requins bested the Sacré-Coeur Griffons. A
total of 24 teams took part in the tournament that was hosted by Marc Savage and the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères.
Also on the lookout for some top end opposition were the Sudbury Midget “AA” Lady Wolves, making their way to Québec City for the Tournoi
International Hockey Féminin de Québec. By-passing the Midget “AAA” division in favour of the Collegiate grouping, the locals would finish tied for
fourth place in a field of 14 teams that included a small handful of PWHL (Provincial Women's Hockey League) opponents, as well as Cegep and Academy
teams from Québec.
The Lady Wolves dropped their opener, 1-0, to the Brampton Jr Canadettes, but rebounded to play the Ottawa Lady Senators to a 1-1 tie in a
fast-paced affair, with Jenna Miller accounting for the Sudbury goal.
The host team of the 2019 Esso Cup in April then blanked the Pionnières du Cégep de Rimouski, 4-0 (Alexe Clavelle, Madison Laberge,
Lauren Hancock, Taylor Scott – shutout Cailen Hanzlik) and closed things off with a 2-1 win over the Cougars de Champlain Lennoxville, as
Clavelle added another pair of tallies.
The Lasalle Lancers senior boys basketball team found themselves with exactly the same mindset, taking advantage of the tail-end of the exam
break to travel to the Cambridge Hawks Invitational. The SDSSAA powerhouse suffered a seven-point setback to Central Wellington from Guelph
in one of the semi-finals, but were right back on track in the bronze medal affair.
A three point win over Southwood Secondary School Sabres from Cambridge should help the Lancers in terms of their preparation for a big match-up
with the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères on Monday. While Lasalle (12-0) is guaranteed to finish in the top two and earn a first round play bye, EMSC
(9-4) can join them by pulling off the upset.
Still on the hardcourt, there was a very special career achievement for a Sudbury product recently as Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School graduate
Marianne Alarie surpassed the 1000-point plateau for her OUA career as a member of the Queen's Gaels.
Scoring the milestone basket against the Laurentian Voyageurs, no less, on January 26th, Alarie became just the fourth player in Queen's team
history to reach the mark. “It just kind of englobes my entire career, showing all of the dedication and hard work I've put in, the impact that my parents,
my coaches, my teammates have had on my development,” noted the 22 year-old fifth year senior.
While she has worked diligently on her defensive game since first arriving in Kingston, Alarie is more than aware where her bread is buttered. “I've
always been very offensively minded,” she said. “When I get the basketball, I'm thinking about how I can create for myself, how I can create for others,
finding ways to reach the key to make a nice pass or finish for myself.”
“It's really having that attacking mentality that helps me.”
And while the aggregate point total did not sneak up on her, Alarie was still taken off-guard when the big moment arrived. “I knew that I was
approaching it, I knew that I was probably going to be hitting it in that game,” she said. “I knew the basket was coming, but I was really surprised by the
“They announced it and there was a little break and I got a standing ovation,” Alarie continued. “It was really heart-warming. I was really touched by
everybody being so happy for me.”