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Boys high-school basketball race is a good one
2024-02-08
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So what exactly do we make of a 77-65 Lasalle Lancers victory over the Lo-Ellen Park Knights Tuesday night in New Sudbury, a win that effectively gives the former home court advantage throughout the upcoming playoffs, assuming they navigate the post-season pathway safely?

Just under three weeks ago, the Knights edged the Lancers 74-73 in their south-end venue.

But far more important than the site of that game was the fact that not only did Adam Scott lead Lo-Ellen with 26 points (Quin Mazzuchin had 22), but the Knights also benefitted from the interior presence of Kalev Timusk (eight points).

Both Scott and Timusk were sidelined with injuries for the rematch.

That said, the Lancers were beaten by just a single point in game one as the dynamic duo of Tyrone Johnson and Sylas Asare-Corbiere combined to account for 40 of the 73 points their team recorded.

The pair were front and centre again at Lasalle – Johnson (17), Asare-Corbiere (16) – but it was Damien Quevillon leading the way with 22 as the victors did a nice job of spreading the ball around, with Derrick Idehen adding 12 and Ashton Eadie-Chartrand hooping eight.

“We knew that we had to come out with more energy – and the home court definitely helped,” said Quevillon, a grade 12 senior who was a committed hockey goaltender through until grade 8, making the move to basketball and a Jam rep team coming out of Covid.

“I got a little bit lucky, more consistent with my shots,” he added. “The shots were falling, so that helped.”

Truth be told, the soft-spoken teenager has seen his game continue to climb over the course of his high-school career, partly due to practice, partly due to the physiological reality of young men at this age.

“I really grew a lot so that helped me pick up a lot more rebounds and be the player I am now, to go for those offensive rebounds and put them back in,” said Quevillon. “And this year, my shot improved a bit so that’s helped me score more.”

The contest was an entertaining, fast-moving affair, lasting only 80 minutes or so, start to finish.

Without any kind of big-man presence in the paint, Lo-Ellen relied on their perimeter game, with Will Church leading the way with 20 points, including a trio of threes late in the first half as part of an 11-2 Knights’ run that narrowed their deficit to 39-34.

Quin Mazzuchin (13), Shiloh Sauvé (12) and Mateo Volpini (12) were also front and centre at various times for the Purple and Black who were coming off a pair of recent tournament victories against some pretty talented opponents from around the province.

In mid-January, Adam Scott went off for 41 points in the final of the Simcoe Tournament as Lo-Ellen bounced the MacKinnon Park Blue Devils from Caledonia, 82-77. Mazzuchin (18 pts) and Timusk (10) also hit double digits in that game.

This past weekend, the Knights swept both the junior and senior titles of the Falcons Classic hosted by Fellowes High-School in Pembroke, with the elder lads taking down the Lasalle Black Knights from Kingston, 60-58 in the gold medal affair.

Coach Mac Bertrand and company featured a scoring parade that highlighted Quin Mazzuchin (20), Will Church (15) and Shiloh Sauvé (8), as Lo-Ellen looks forward to the return of both Adam Scott and Kalev Timusk in the next week or two.

With a record of 9-1 in the books, the Lasalle Lancers will prep for the playoffs by travelling south to the Wayne Nugent Classic being staged at Woodbridge College. Lo-Ellen (8-1) close out regular season play against the winless Horizon Aigles.

And for as much as the top two have generally done a good job of taking care of business against the Lockerby Vikings (5-4), Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes (4-6) and St Charles College Cardinals (2-7), there have been a few nailbiters mixed in, with nothing guaranteed when the pressure of post-season play hits next week.

There is also little in the way of anything that is cast in stone when it comes to predicting a SDSSAA Junior Division I boys basketball champion as well – in spite of the fact that the St Benedict Bears continue to pad their impressive resume, capturing the Zenon Zemba Tournament last weekend in Timmins and improving to 23-1 on the year.

The team thumped Iroquois Falls in the opener, 97-18 as Michael Folino netted 20 points to show the way with the Bears improving to 2-0 thanks to a 72-54 victory against the Timmins High Blues (Bradley Cothill with 20).

A 78-38 semi-final win over Kirkland Lake was something of a coming out party for tournament MVP and St Benedict freshman Holden Beange, dropping 41 points on the Tri-Towns crew. He would add another 25 in the final versus Lasalle (74-36), with Sullivan Smith adding 20, all-star Dylan Nelson registering 14 and Keegan Adair just one point back.

The only St Benedict loss this year came at the hands of the Lancers as Lasalle topped the Bears 64-52 back on January 15th, the teams now deadlocked at 6-1 atop the league standings.

There are also no undefeated teams in the senior Division II ranks as the front-running Sudbury Secondary School North Stars (6-1) were surprised by the St Benedict Bears a few weeks back.

Quarter-final and semi-final play in this loop could prove fascinating with the Hanmer Sabres and Macdonald-Cartier Panthères (both at 5-2) and Bishop Carter Gators (5-3) all bunched closely together.

Macdonald-Cartier is at the top of the mountain in the Division II junior ranks at 8-1, surviving a 52-48 scare from the Lively Hawks before being knocked off by the same opponent, 50-40. Interestingly enough, it’s the Confederation Chargers holding down second place at 7-2, with Lively one game back at 6-3.

The only unbeaten high-school basketball team in the city is currently the Lo-Ellen Park Novice Knights, their 6-0 mark featuring a pair of close calls against the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes (48-40) and the St Charles College Cardinals (31-27).

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