Year-end banquet and other basketball news
by Randy Pascal
The end of another season of club basketball locally was feted recently at a year-end banquet that featured some words of wisdom from former Sudbury
Secondary North Stars and Laurentian Lady Vees standout Shirlene McLean.
Addressing the gathering of several hundred youngsters assembled at the Caruso Club for the Sudbury Youth Basketball Association event,
McLean noted just how far the sport of basketball had come since the days that she first strolled on to the floors of her Mackenzie Street high school.
"I think engaging kids at a young age in sports is a great thing," she said. "I wish that I could go back in time and walk in their shoes and do it all
over again." Still, as much as she recognized very early her one true athletic passion, McLean stressed the need for diversification, a key ingredient that
she will look for in helping to assess incoming talent as an assistant coach now with her former team at Laurentian.
"There are certainly concerns about sport specific specialization, and therefore we try and remind the kids of the need for more cross-training, playing
other sports, and then coming back to the game that you love."
No problem for graduating 18 year old Caleb Dahmer of Lo-Ellen, a very familiar face with both the Knights football and basketball contingents.
Completing a run of some five to six years as a member of the Jam (or Selects, previously), Dahmer recalled the very special bond that was created as he
readies himself to begin post-secondary studies at Humber College in Toronto in the fall.
"I enjoyed the people, my teammates," he said. "It's special going into something knowing there is always going to be people there who have your back."
Over the course of time, Dahmer would experience an interesting evolution, positionally-speaking, especially for a young man blessed with lineman type size in
"I used to be more of a down low player, but I transitioned lately to more of a point guard, and then a shooting guard," he said. "I've played all over
the floor. I love the three (point) line, playing outside and shooting threes."
Part of an interesting SYBA team that brought together talent from both Sudbury and Elliot Lake, Dahmer and his mates had the pleasure of some coaching
stability in the form of Macdonald-Cartier physical education teacher Ron Poulin.
"He's pretty calm, so you know that when you screw up, he's not going to unleash it on you," said Dahmer with a laugh. "He's very level-headed, a really
good coach." In fact, the ranks of those who are choosing to impart their basketball knowledge on the youth of this city has arguably never been stronger or
deeper within the club system.
Just ask Mélanie Cloutier, a long-time member of the Jam, but having just completed her first season under the watchful eye of Sudbury Sports
Hall of Fame member Mitch Lalonde.
"He really likes to run the floor," said Cloutier, nodding with obvious approval. "He wants us to go and be organized, to really read and react, to know
where to be on the floor, and where to be for each other."
Now sixteen years of age and enjoying the summer off prior to her grade 12 school year at Collège Notre-Dame, Cloutier was thankful for the chance
to play up in the U19 division, competing with girls representing several high schools, includes some of her teammates with the Alouettes.
"We did fairly well for playing up, and we had fun doing it," she stated. "It's really competitive, so you develop better skills that you can use in
high school season. We get to know each other that much better on the court and off the court, so when it gets to school ball, we have that chemistry that
we can bring from the club season."
In other club basketball news, the second of the Sudbury U15 Jam girls teams returned from provincials in Durham Region with silver medals in hand.
The team easily bested the Centre Wellington Celtics 52-14, but dropped a 37-28 decision to North Region CC in game two.
Facing the undefeated Oakville Venom in the semi-finals, the locals pulled up their socks and registered a 33-27 victory to advance to the final,
settling for silver after losing to North Region a second time, 34-30 in the rematch.
The Sudbury silver medal winning team included Cassandra Yurich, Grace Tresidder, Darah Tremblay, Aliyah Robinson, Katrina Thai, Arianna Ghorbani,
Colleen Gauvreau and Athena Grandmaison.
And in closing, three members of the Sudbury Jam U16 Elite League team were named to compete at the league all-star game earlier this month at the
Hoopdome, with all three contributing in a significant way.
Emilie Lafond netted eight points, while also making her presence felt defensively, dominating the glass for Team Nike Black. Underager
Claudia Pellerin drained an even dozen points and was recognized for her efforts, receiving the "Hustle Award" at the conclusion of the encounter.
Last but certainly not least, Delaney Bourget helped control the speed and tempo of the game, dishing out 10 assists and knocking down five three
point shots, including a buzzer beater. For her part, Bourget was named "Game MVP" for the squad.