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A Lasalle basketball sweep is no longer cast in stone
2024-02-20
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There was a time when a Lasalle Lancers junior-senior high-school boys basketball sweep of the city finals would draw many a ho-hum reaction.

With the juniors claiming a SDSSAA banner just once in the past decade and the seniors sharing recent success with either the Lo-Ellen Park Knights or Lockerby Vikings, there is now a great deal more intrigue in the Division I playdowns.

On Saturday, the junior Lancers edged Lo-Ellen by the slimmest of margins (52-51) after the Knights bounced the first place St Benedict Bears 71-60 in semi-final play last Thursday.

"I thought we played well for the majority of the game," noted Lasalle head coach Kyle Preseau. "We shot ourselves in the foot a bit offensively by not coming up with points from the free-throw line and giving up too many second chance points."

"But this team is super confident and I knew they could overcome what was thrown at them."

Christian Wreegbo (17), Deran Cooper (13) and Ethan Dobson (11) were the primary catalysts on the attack for Lasalle while Mishal Olanrewaju (17), Noah Skrobot (13) and Adrian Aho (9) helped kept things close for the Knights.

Rounding out the championship roster were Rashaun Asare-Corbiere, Ryder Hewlett, Micah Taylor, Jude St Michael-Leblanc, Ben Sauve, Lunden Campbell-Runia, Dawson Dumontelle, Alazar Stevens and Dylan Bates.

After taking in the drama of the junior final, the elder statesmen of the hardcourt at the home of the Orange & Black were far more business-like in comfortably defeating the Lockerby Vikings, 68-54.

With injuries playing a key role in preventing a matchup of the two 9-1 teams in the Division I senior boys basketball ranks (Lo-Ellen and Lasalle), the Lancers had to turn their attention to a 6-4 Lockerby side that presented an entirely different challenge from that of the Knights.

“It’s a different mindset, different matchups, for sure,” noted 19 year-old senior Tyrone Johnson, who recorded 11 points in the final, joining Sylas Asare-Corbiere (20) and Damien Quevillon (13) as the primary offensive contributors for the crew that now set their sights on earning a trip to OFSAA.

“Lo-Ellen likes to push the ball, which is a lot trickier for us,” Johnson continued. “The Lockerby matchup is better. We knew that if we rebounded and got second opportunities, we would win, for sure. We just tried to play solid defense, make sure that they didn’t penetrate the middle.”

“We have to change more on defense, not so much of offense,” chimed-in transfer senior Derrick Idehen, earning his first ever SDSSAA gold medal. “For Lo-Ellen, we play more of a press, up the court more. They have smaller players that like to run fastr breaks.”

Zeb Aulenbach led all scorers in this affair, countering with 23 points for the Vikes, with Owen Turner helping out with another 16.

The gold medal winning team also included Zidain Allen, Nathan Borieo, Dash Kamal, Chad Tullio, Liam Velkovski, Logan Akkanen and Caleb Woods, along with assistant coach Kyle Preseau.

Over in a Division II senior bracket that enjoyed as much parity as has been seen in several years, the Bishop Carter Gators rode a breakthrough performance from Ethan Smith (18 pts) and plenty of assistance from a deep supporting cast to a 72-60 victory over the St Benedict Bears.

The Gators and Bears advanced to the championship encounter by capturing their semi-finals by a combined margin of just eight points.

Graduating senior and team leader Alex Lynds hooped 14 points, with rebounding monster Malachi Slack matching that total while Cody Osawamick registered a double double that included his 14 point effort. Even suffocating defensive specialist Seth Turnbull was in on the action at the other end of the court, netting six big points.

“From the first whistle to the last, we came out of the gates with a clear plan and the heart and hustle to back it up,” noted Bishop Carter head coach Jeff Mousseau. “At certain points during the game when the Bears took the lead, we were able to make adjustments on the fly, remembering to stick to the process.”

Nathan Fogarty, Ethan Smith, Shane Stephens, Brad Cudmore, Sean O'Connell, Brandon Ramsay, Jacob Rogerson and Evan Mantha were all part of this winning recipe at the home of the Gators.

In junior Division II action, the Confederation Chargers made it nine straight victories with their 40-36 triumph Friday over the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères, a team that they lost to twice in the opening week of the season, including a 69-32 setback to kickoff the year.

After edging the Lively Hawks in semi-final play (57-54), the Chargers continued to ride a wave of momentum, getting off to a fast start against the Panthères and never looking back. Meeka Duguay was front and centre in the scoring parade, putting up 15 with Cohen Strickland close behind (13) and Kaidin McFarlane also in on the mix with six after hitting for 19 in the semis.

“At the start of the season, our goal was to win the city banner,” noted head coach Megan Urquhart. “After a slow start, the boys settled in, worked hard and were committed to achieving that goal.”

As for the final encounter - well, defense wins championships, as they say.

"Defensively, Owen Blay used his speed to play shut down basketball, Cohen Strickland guarded the key effectively, Meeka Duguay was quick to get back and came up with a number of steals, with Kaidin McFarlane and Dylan Dakin fighting through screens, reducing the three point opportunities up top", added Urquhart.

The Chargers also welcomed Cooper Thomson, Payton Somers, Deegan Kingsley, Levi Yuskiw, Logan Brennan, Cameron Doucet, Alex Beaulne and Aayden Robidoux to their roster this year.

Greater Sudbury Soccer Club