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It's shaping up to be one heck of a sprint to the finish in the SDSSAA Senior Boys Division I Basketball league this winter.

Just two days after the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes managed to make it three straight wins over the perennial powerhouse that is Lasalle Secondary School, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights served notice that come playoff time, they will be the team to beat.

Pushing their league record to a perfect 5-0 and their overall mark to 18-1, the Knights comfortably handled CND by a final count of 76-59 as siblings Quin and Dax Mazzuchin drained 20 points apiece, all while Ethan Scott dominated on the inside, addign 10 points of his own while racking up one rebound after another.

The victory made for a great week for head coach Kyle Beers and company, as Lo-Ellen easily secure south end bragging rights with an 88-44 thumping of the Lockerby Vikings.

With victories over Lockerby, Notre-Dame and Lasalle, 91-62 in the final of the Mitch Lalonde Memorial Tournament back in December, the Knights set their bar on the year, following that up with another tournament win in the New Year, this one coming in Orangeville.

Vanquishing the Middlefield Silver Hawks (Vaughan) and the Grand River Bandits (Kitchener) before completing their championship run with a 70-56 triumph over the R.F Hall Wolfpak from Caledon in the final, the Knights returned north as gold medal winners at the Central Dufferin Dust-Up last weekend.

"These are the results we envisioned when we put this team together back in the fall," said coach Beers. "Our team is 13 players deep, with size, shooting and dynamic scoring. Our goals from the start are to win cities, NOSSA and make some noise at OFSAA."

Noting that team practices are every bit as competitive as the games, Beers has enjoyed the challenge of guiding this entire Lo-Ellen unit after enjoying success previously with the Lasalle Lancers a few years back.

In particular, he took time to praise the efforts of Dax Mazzuchin ("his quiet but intense leadership set the tone from day one") and senior forward Adam Scott, who returned from injury after Christmas and is looking as good as ever, earning tournament MVP honours in Central Dufferin.

The depth on the squad are readily apparent through the influx of youth, with Adam Scott emerging as the team's second leading scorer, following nicely in the footsteps of his older brother.

Rounding out his roster with Matteo Volpini, Kalev Timisk, Callum Bertrand, Cole Brown, Abdi Kolbou, Arjun Shukla, Jake Sandblom, Jake Clarke and Ansh Patel, Beers knows that things only get tougher, moving forward.

"We have a month until playoffs and we are committed to putting in the work and seeing how far we can go," he said.

On Monday at Collège Notre-Dame, the Alouettes overcame a 36-25 deficit early in the second half, outscoring Lasalle 34-16 through the balance of the game in posting a 59-52 victory.

Dominic Gionet torched the Lancers to the tune of a 26-point performance, with 14 coming in the third quarter alone as CND mounted a 19-4 run to erase the deficit and grab control of the game.

"Early in the third, they started pushing the ball more than us and we knew that we had to make a change," said Gionet, a 17 year-old grade 12 student. "We had to match their intensity. Our cardio is really good and I think our intensity lasted longer than theirs."

With the likes of Sylas Corbiere (12 pts), Tyrone Johnson (11) and Hayden Radey (10), Lasalle can create a size mismatch for the smaller but arguably quicker Alouettes.

"Mostly all of their positions are bigger than ours," said Gionet. "Boxing out is a good thing but it doesn't always get the boards. You've got to start boxing out from the three point line to make sure that they can't get inside."

"I think the key for me inside, when you have big guys like Tyrone, is toput your shoulder in before you take the lay-up," he added. "If you go straight up, they will block you or defend you pretty well."

With exams set to start on Wednesday, Lasalle closes off the first semester schedule with a home game Monday against the Hanmer Sabres. After that, league play resumes on February 1st, with playoffs kicking off on February 13th and city finals set for the 17th.

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