OFSAA round-up: The first wave
by Randy Pascal
The Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes are enjoying their chance to grab a little of the local high-school boys basketball spotlight.
After sliding in behind both the Lasalle Lancers and the Lo-Ellen Park Knights in senior boys action this winter, coach Martin
Nadeau and his crew would claim gold at the NOSSA "A" Boys Basketball Championships, which CND hosted in late February.
Earning their second straight berth at OFSAA, the team was intent on bettering their winless performance at provincials from one year ago as they made
the trek to London on Sunday.
So far, so good.
Earning the fifth seed in the field of 20 teams, the Alouettes opened play on Monday with a 62-49 victory over the Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
Flames from Kitchener, as Anthony Rogerson poured in 17 points to lead the way.
Tuesday morning, Notre-Dame bounced the Hamilton District Christian School Knights 68-52 as Rogerson upped the ante, increasing his production by
an even dozen with a 29-point performance, with Kevin Watson adding 19. “I think it's anybody's tournament and I like where we're at, how we're
playing these past few weeks,” said Nadeau on Monday evening.
“We had eight players that scored today, four in double digits,” he continued. “It's very balanced scoring. We're moving the ball around, making the
open shots, and we're playing as a team. I can trust any five guys on the court to do the job, offensively or defensively, right now.”
One of six returning players who experienced OFSAA one year ago, Denver Rooney sees his role less as a scorer, much more as a distributor,
finding the open guy. He also sees an interesting change in the way his team has approached this return visit to the all-Ontario high-school
“Last year, we put a lot of emphasis on the seedings,” Rooney stated. “We were seeded ninth and we played the 11th seed to start off. We started slowly
and when we started losing, we kind of got mad. I think we're way more resilient this year. We had a lot more close games down the stretch, which helped us
learn how to manage the clock and manage the ball.”
Nico Smith is making his first appearance at this event, joining the senior crew as a 11th grade guard. “I thought I shot the ball well, that we
shot the ball well, as a unit,” he said. “The three point shot is definitely one of our biggest strengths, we kind of live or die by the three. Our
intensity and our energy was really good. Hopefully we can carry that over.”
The Alouettes must now go toe to toe with the defending OFSAA champions and # 7 seed Nicholson Catholic College Crusaders in the quarter-finals
Tuesday night. Given their appearance one year ago, coach Nadeau had no issue with the pre-tournament ranking of his local squad.
“The five seed is respectful,” he said. “It's respectful of our program, it's respectful of our team, it's respectful of our players that play hard
Results Update: The Alouettes were eliminated Tuesday evening, dropping a 55-46 decision to the Nicholson Crusaders as Rogerson
increased his tournament total output to 58 points over the course of three games.
The Lo-Ellen Park Knights, meanwhile, will have to be content with chalking up one win in three encounters in Timmins, taking a relatively young team to
the OFSAA “AA” playdowns. For a group that may have surprised themselves by emerging as NOSSA champions one week earlier, just getting a chance to take
part in provincials provided a measure of success for the Knights.
“You look at the growth that we've had, starting out at 2-4, and then coming together as a team, figuring out how to play together,” said 18 year old
veteran Patrick Thom. “The real turning point was definitely the Guelph tournament. We were back on our heels as a team. The coach said that this
would make or break our season, that we just had to play like we had nothing to lose.”
“We won a couple of games against some really good teams that weekend and carried that momentum into league play.” Just 16 years old and in grade 11,
Fraser Larocque is emblematic of the development of this crew, with so many players taking a huge step forward. “I've been playing basketball since
grade six, but I guess this year is my breakthrough year,” he said.
“I see it mostly with scoring, knowing when to take good shots. If it's a shot that I can make in practice, then it's a shot I can make in a game.”
While the likes of Thom and Larocque have answered the questions, this year, regarding their ability to play at this level, court general Abraham
Soumahoro was more of a known quantity, his reputation as a local top-end talent already cemented via years of involvement in the sport in Sudbury.
Despite that impressive resume, this will constitute Soumahoro's first trip to OFSAA. “I'm looking forward to the competition, to the increase in speed,
increase in power,” he said. “I want to play against those better players and see what it's like at that higher level.”
Interestingly enough, Soumahoro does expect a difference between these provincials and any that he has attended in the past as a member of the Sudbury
Jam competitive basketball teams. “I think OFSAA is going to be a lot tougher,” he said. “Even though the players are just as good in club, high school
ball is more coached, there are more practices, more plays to work on.”
“It's just a fundamentally higher level of basketball.”
Results Update: The Knights were unable to overcome a difficult draw in Timmins. Seeded 17th, the local lads were beaten 65-27 by the
Mother Theresa Spartans from London, defending champions and third seed in the 2019 tournament.
Faced with a more realistic challenge, Lo-Ellen stopped the St Ignatius Falcons from Thunder Bay (16th seed) 64-59 in game two, but were sent
packing in the quarter-finals, bounced 83-36 by the top-seeded W.C. Kennedy Collegiate Clippers from Windsor.
Rounding out the trio of SDSSAA representatives who have been taking part in either OFSAA basketball (boys) or volleyball (girls) competitions early
this week are the Lo-Ellen Park Knights senior girls volleyball court team. The Knights avenged a straight set loss in the city finals to Collège
Notre-Dame, upending the Alouettes in the NOSSA final just days later.
Like their boys basketball counterparts, this team is looking to walk away with a little extra experience this week in Burlington. “We're just enjoying
it right now,” said coach Steve Dunlop at practice last week, before leaving for southern Ontario on the weekend.
“We know that northern teams have faced a tough environment down there. And we haven't had a chance to play any southern Ontario teams, so there isn't
much of a reference to go on. We just want to go down and compete and have fun.”
Results Update: Lo-Ellen will have to look to 2020 for their first victory with some of the members of the 2018-2019 squad, dropping four straight encounters at the
2019 OFSAA “AAA” Championships.
The Knights were 0-2 on opening day following losses to both Dr Frank J Hayden Secondary School Huskies from Burlington (8-25, 8-25) and Glebe
Collegiate Institute Gryphons from Ottawa (20-25, 10-25).
Day 2 proved equally as challenging as the Eastview Wildcats from Barrie downed Lo-Ellen 25-10, 25-19, while the Uxbridge Tigers outscored
the locals 25-15, 25-20.