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OFSAA recap: Horizon medals in volleyball for a second straight year
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The four year game plan for coach Patrick Gervais and the graduating crew of Horizon Aigles was to show progress over the course of each and every season – and from one season to the next.

And while the ultimate goal for 2023-2024 was an OFSAA Girls “A” Volleyball gold medal, the fact remains that in moving from bronze last winter to silver this time around, progress was achieved.

Entering play last week as the #2 seed at the all-Ontario event that was hosted in Elliot Lake and Blind River, the city champs dropped only one set in claiming first place in their pool, knocking off, in succession, the Sainte-Marie Apollos from New Liskeard (25-13, 25-5), les Dragons de Le Caron from Penetanguishene (25-13, 25-12), the Woodstock Red Devils (25-13, 17-25, 15-5) and the Saint-Charles-Garnier Lynx from Whitby (25-17, 25-19).

Safely through to the quarter-finals, the Aigles then met up with the York School Gladiators in what many fans deemed the game of the tournament – an accolade that seldom occurs in the first round of the playoff match-ups. But a thrilling 25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13 triumph over the Toronto school was a testament to the talent on both sides of the net and the resilience of the northern girls.

“By the end of the third set, we had to change everything,” noted coach Gervais. “Instead of playing defensively (to combat a left-side York tandem comprised of a member from each of the national junior team and Team Ontario), we decided to go on the offensive and try and get them out of system as much as possible.”

“It doesn’t eliminate their attack, but it did slow them down,” Gervais added. “The girls really gutted their way through that win.”

And for as much as he was thrilled with the composure of his graduating class, he was every bit as excited when grade 11 attacker Emma Perreault left no doubt as to just how badly she wanted to hit the game-winning kill, driving the ball down the line and propelling her team to the semis.

Horizon took care of business against the Hamilton DCHS Knights, sweeping aside the southern squad 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 before facing the top seed from the highly touted Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association (CISAA) in the form of St Clement’s School from Toronto.

Facing an opponent that was, position by position, simply a smidge better, the Aigles kept it close throughout while settling for silver following a 20-25, 23-25, 23-25 setback – all of which sets the stage for perhaps a one-year extension to the original Horizon four year plan, in spite of graduating seven seniors this summer.

“We are as excited as ever for next year,” said Gervais. “Our goal again will be trying to make it to OFSAA – but the hardest part next year might be just trying to get out of Sudbury.”

Among the teams that will be strong again next year are the Champlain Requins, city finalist last month and NOSSA champions, who competed at the OFSAA “AA Championships in Kingston last week.

Seeded 16th coming in, the Requins surprised some by posting a 2-2 record within their pool, beating both the Glenview Park Panthers (Cambridge – 25-11, 23-25, 15-6) and the St Mary Crusaders (Hamilton – 25-13, 19-25, 15-6) in three sets but coming up short against the Beatrice-Desloges Bulldogs from Orleans (13-25, 11-15) and the Aurora HS Eagles (23-25, 23-25).

Bumped to the Consolation side of the draw, Champlain remained alive for another draw, besting the Bishop Smith Crusaders from Pembroke in four sets (25-13, 27-29, 25-11, 25-9) before giving way to the St Mary Thunder from Cobourg (16-25, 18-25, 22-25).

The high-school boys’ basketball season also came to an end last week with a pair of local entries representing NOSSA hopes in Ottawa (AA) and Hamilton (AAA). With a timely win at NOSSA, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights earned the right to travel to the nation’s capital, opening play with an 84-47 victory as Adam Scott and Quin Mazzuchin paced the offense with 21 and 19 points respectively.

A 68-44 loss to the eventual gold medal winning St Joseph Jaguars from Barrie would see Mazzuchin bump his two-game point total to 32 as the Knights were sent to the consolation draw. A 20-point performance from Adam Scott was among the several highlights as Lo-Ellen bounced the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay) 72-35.

The talented teen was at it again in a game four losing effort, netting 36 points as the Thornlea Thunder (Thornill) stopped the south end crew 95-82.

Over in Hamilton, Sylas Asare-Corbiere would lead the Lasalle Lancers in scoring in each and every game as the New Sudbury lads were defeated by St Marcellinus Spirit from Mississauga (76-43), outlasted the St Peter Saints from Peterborough (53-48) before being sent packing by the top-seeded and eventual champion Oakwood Barons from Toronto, 71-27.

Asare Corbiere would finish the tournament with 54 points, putting together a run of 18-19-17 over the course of his three games.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre was the site for the OFSAA Swimming Championships last week, with a few locals taking to the podium. The Lockerby Vikings' tandem of Norah Morrissey (HS Girls) and James Bertrim (Open Boys) were front and centre again this year, with the former collecting a gold in the 50m freestyle while the latter took home silver in the 200m freestyle event.

Coheed Hingst from Lasalle also claimed bronze in the boys high-school division, finishing third in the 100m backstroke while Shane Clapham of St Benedict also qualified for an “A” final, cracking the top ten in the 100m breaststroke.

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