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Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018
LaPierre prepares for Lasalle Lancer swan song
by Randy Pascal

The 2017 OFSAA "AA" Boys Basketball Championship this week in Sault Ste Marie will mark the official "swan swong" of Lasalle Lancers sensation Noah LaPierre. Interestingly enough, the team that will represent NOSSA for a second straight year offers both good and bad for the colourful sharp-shooter, who is down to his final few choices for a 2017-2018 post-secondary destination.

On the one hand, gone are the offensive contributions of Kurtis Brisebois, Brendan Dixon and Brett Holly, a troika that provided a wonderful complement to LaPierre during a run to the OFSAA consolation crown last March in Timmins.

"We lost a few talented guards from last year," LaPierre acknowledged. "We don't have as much firepower, going down, but we do have a better feel for it. We've been there before. If we take care of the ball and shoot well, I think we can compete with the best of them."

If nothing else, this year's season-ending tournament will be a memorable one for LaPierre, if only from the standpoint that he will enjoy it side by side with twin grade ten siblings Liam and Brennan (LaPierre).

"It's a whole family thing," said the older brother, with a smile. "When they played junior, it was difficult for my parents, trying to go to tournaments. This year, playing together, my grandparents, my parents are all able to come to the same games, which is nice."

A much younger version of the city championship team of one year ago, the Lancers have adjusted their play to the skill-set they possess. "We had a couple of guys, last year, who really liked to shoot the threes," said LaPierre, who has never been accused of passing up an open shot.

"We still like to shoot, but compared to last year, I think our ball movement is a lot better. We get more passes out on the wings, and we're getting out and running more." Additionally, Lasalle has seen some key returnees take a nice step forward in their play, stepping in to the shoes that were filled by the graduating class already mentioned.

No one has filled this void more than grade 12 senior Dylan Terris. "The biggest thing with me is that at the beginning of the season, I was used to playing "passive" ball," said Terris. "I would pass a lot. By the end of the season, I was a lot more aggressive, scoring points and trying to keep up with Noah."

The OFSAA tournament will mark the second one that Terris has attended this year, also a key ingredient of the Lancers' senior boys volleyball team that finished fourth at the all-Ontario playdowns back in November.

As for a preference between the two sports, Terris is affixed firmly to the fence. "Honestly, it depends on what season I'm in," he said. "When I'm playing volleyball, I love volleyball. I almost don't think about basketball. But once I get back to basketball, I stop thinking about volleyball."

Coach Kyle Beers, by contrast, almost never stops thinking about basketball. And while he envisioned another solid team at Lasalle this year, this group, he believes, has surprised him.

"I think we are better than what we anticipated," said Beers. "The boys have come together faster than what we thought. This group is very smart on the court, they pick up things really, really quickly."

For yet another Sudbury team not blessed in a vertical fashion, attention to detail is key. "When we're clicking, our defensive rotations are very crisp, and have to be, given that we are an undersized team," suggested Beers.

"We have to really rotate out on the shooters, while at the same time maintaining that inside presence on some of the bigs." As for the event specifics in the Sault, the schedule maker has done the Lancers no favours.

Back to back wins by the tournament 9th seeded team would mean a quarter final date with powerhouse Ashbury College from Ottawa. "At the end of the dday, a ranking is just a number, but it does determine our path through, and we have some tough games this year, which is what we're ready for," said Beers.

"If you want to win an OFSAA medal, you do need to knock off some of the better teams." And in order to do that, the locals will rely on a mantra that has remained their rallying cry for the past little while.

"The motto that we've lived by the past few years at Lasalle is that "we have to be 1% better in one hundred different ways"," said Beers. "If we do that, we can be successful."

The 2016-2017 Lancers are comprised of Brady Bond, Ronin Makela, Kyle Fong, Alex Cunningham, Michael Babcock, Nathan Scully, Noah Carpino, Brennan LaPierre, Liam LaPierre, Eric Senechal, Dylan Terris, Noah LaPierre and coaches Kyle Beers and Joel Rehel.

Tournament Update: The Lancers have opened the championship on a winning note, besting Crescent School from Toronto 62-47, as Noah LaPierre paced the attack with 24 points. The teams were tied at 29-29 at the half, before Lasalle exploded with a 21-8 third quarter run, providing for exactly the margin of victory in the end.

The team now moves on to face the Glendale Gemini (#8), 54-48 winners over the Adam Scott Collegiate Lions from Peterborough.

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