Tied 21-21 at the half, the Lasalle Lancers and Lo-Ellen Park Knights had clearly set the tone for the SDSSAA senior girls basketball final Saturday night at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.
Through the entire third quarter, the teams were never separated by more than two points. Even as Mia Jermyn calmly sank a pair of free throws to put the Knights ahead 33-30, Lasalle had an answer. Jasmine Savignac drilled home a pair of three point baskets from opposite corners and the Lancers appeared poised for a run, leading 36-33.
Yet it would be the Lo-Ellen girls, finalists one year ago but falling to the more experienced Macdonald-Cartier Panthères, who would counterpunch one final time. A 9-1 run, highlighted by six points from Elliot Tissot, including a basket from beyond the arc, lifted the Knights to a 42-37 win and their third banner in the past four years.
“They’re an aggressive team, we knew that, and they play really solid defence,” noted grade 12 veteran Arianna Ghorbani. “We knew that we had to use our defence to contain that, but also on offense, we had to not be afraid to get in there and get some fouls called, and rely on each other to move the ball around and get it in the basket.”
In a small packed gym, with both teams fielding relatively young senior girls lineups, the atmosphere was both intense and potentially intimidating, with both squads showing signs of nerves, at times. “Honestly, I give a lot of credit to our coaches (Lisa Carruthers and Antoinette Purdon),” said Ghorbani.
“They’re really good at getting us to calm down during timeouts. Also, when we look at each other on the court, we remind each other to calm down, and we always try and keep a positive attitude.”
A primary ball-handler for the Knights, Ghorbani was forced to leave the contest for roughly a quarter or more, sustaining a tweak to her neck in the sometimes physical affair, and returning to the court with about five minutes to play.
“My neck was a lot looser then,” she said. “I was a little nervous, but I know that my teammates have my back. I knew they would support me and maybe bring up the ball and take a lot more contact.”
Elliot Tissot and Isabel Maki would lead the Knights scoring parade with 11 points each, with Kyra Mallory adding seven, while Jasmine Savignac and Mekayla Layne, both with ten, topped the charts for Lasalle.
Rounding out the Lo-Ellen roster are Briele Bisaillon, Grace Tressider, Giulia Wilson, Katrina Thai, Maike Purdon, Carling Kuhlberg, Asma Bilgasem and Sophie Moore.
The Division II senior final was played on Friday night, with the Confederation Chargers capping off a flawless fall schedule, picking up their ninth consecutive victory with a 51-31 triumph over the Bishop Carter Gators in the gold medal affair.
Lasalle did not return home empty handed as the junior Lancers bounced the Lockerby Vikings 41-23 in their championship encounter, with Lainey Allen, Charlotte Eberlein and Kaity Lloyd all recording eight points for the winners, and Ava Zigler answering with seven for the Vikes.
And finishing off the basketball loop, the Marymount Regals secured top spot in the junior Division II ranks with a 37-27 victory over the St Charles College Cardinals, also capping off a flawless campaign.
Meanwhile at Cambrian College, the Lasalle senior boys volleyball crew were up to the challenge that the improving Lo-Ellen Park Knights would present, going four sets before racking up their sixth consecutive city title, 25-17, 25-21, 14-25, 25-18.
“This Lo-Ellen team was definitely one of the best teams that we’ve seen since I’ve been in high school,” noted 17 year old power Parker Farstad, who combined with both Jason Diotte and Kurtis Terris to present a three-pronged attack that Lo-Ellen struggled to contain. “They beat us in a tournament this year and we haven’t been beaten up north in a long, long time.”
Yet for as good as the Knights have become, the Lancers are still the gold standard, a team which can eat you up, both offensively and defensively. “Our passing is key,” said Farstad. “We’ve got a really big middle and lots of players that can hit, so we needed to get our hitters going. As long as we can get the ball to the setter (David Pigozzo), we can put the ball down.”
“We also have a great blocking team, so we wanted to try and make sure to play every ball out,” Farstad continued. “If you put the ball in the court, you can always have a second chance on defence. That was one of our keys today.”
Joining the afore-mentioned players in looking for a fifth straight trip to OFSAA are Kepler Salt, Austin Pawluk, Zak Thompson, Braedan Pakkala, Ian Mackay, Aidan Lowe, Nicholas Burke, Cameron Showers and Jesse Chisholm.
If nothing else, the Lancers will have one additional challenger come the fall of 2020, as coach Dan Trepanier confirmed following the Division II banner that was captured by the senior Champlain Requins boys team, with a 25-10, 25-17, 17-25, 25-19 win over the Confederation Chargers.
“I only lose my setter (Chris Gingras) next year,” said Trepanier. “Guaranteed we are going to go Division I next year – there’s no doubt about it. We’ve played some good games with Lasalle, one game where we lost 25-19. We have never played well against Lo-Ellen, we just don’t show up against them.”
“And Horizon is in there too, those three teams are tough, but had I known that we could be a fourth place team, with a little school like we are, well .... we are going Division I in both junior and senior next year.”
The Champlain roster was comprised of Alexandre Bradley, Dilan Clark, Tyler Roussel, Chris Gingras, Zach Leblanc, Eric Pelletier, Sébastien Whissel, Mathew Gordon, Jackson Major, Kyle Roney, Declan Baston and Davis Kanola.
The junior Division I bragging rights went to Lasalle, who survived a five set battle with the Horizon Aigles (25-22, 25-16, 15-25, 8-25, 15-9), while the Val Caron school swept to victory in novice play, upending the Sacré Coeur Griffons 25-13, 25-14, 25-19.
The team was coached by alumnus and former Cambrian Golden Shield Alexandre Thériault, as well as current club player and grade 12 student Amber Jacques, as Horizon prepares to host NOSSA junior and senior playdowns Wednesday and Thursday at the school.
Finally, Champlain also walked away as Division II junior champions, stopping the Bishop Carter Gators 25-19, 27-25, 25-23.
And closing off a very busy Saturday high school schedule, the St Charles College Cardinals junior boys football team met their match and then some, dropping the NOSSA final by a score of 63-3 at the hands of the Superior Heights Steelhawks.
The Cards easily navigated their way to top spot in regular season play in Sudbury, posting a 5-0 record and outscoring opponents 234-34, eliminating Confederation and Lively in the playoffs, but were in tough, to say the least, against a Steelhawks squad that received three touchdowns apiece from Dean Breton and Gavin Nye.