BELLEVILLE, Ontario — Winning in college is always tough, but it’s even tougher with a young team.
The 2017-18 edition of the Loyalist Lancers had five first-year players on their roster. To most, that may not seem like a lot, but they only had 10 players listed online, so those five first-year players made up 50% of their roster. They had a total of 14 players accumulate statistics on the year, but the years of the missing four players are unknown.
Given their youth, the Lancers put together a record of 9-11 over the course of the season, good for seventh place in the OCAA East Division. The Lancers were just two points out of the two-way tie for fifth place between the Georgian Grizzles and St. Lawrence (K) Vikings.
Loyalist saw the bulk of their wins come between November 17th and January 21st, a span of eight games for the Lancers collectively before and after the Christmas break. Across the eight games, Loyalist went 6-2, accounting for two-thirds of their wins on the year. They scattered mini losing streaks around their stretch of strong play.
In 2018-19, the Lancers will be looking for a more consistent effort throughout the season, and they will be looking to climb in the standings as their younger players gain more experience with the college game.
Despite the bulk of their wins coming over an eight-game stretch in the middle of the season, the Lancers showed some promise for the future through their 20 games in 2018-19. Close losses against the likes of the Seneca Sting and George Brown Huskies, plus a win over St. Lawrence shows that the Lancers can hang with the top teams in the OCAA.
They lost to the Huskies back in October by eight points, and they fell to the eventual national champions from Seneca by just five points in February.
As a team, the Lancers averaged just over 77 points per game (77.4) on offense, shooting 39.9% from the floor and 32.2% from three-point range. In seven of their nine wins, the Lancers topped 81 points. In their 11 losses, they topped their season average in points just once, a 113-107 loss to the Durham Lords in their fourth game of the season.
Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Lancers will look to draw inspiration from their close losses a season ago and turn them into wins this time around.
The Lancers lose one fifth-year player from last season in Anthony Lowe. The 5’10” guard from Mississauga, ON averaged 3.0 points per game over 11 appearances last season. While their 2018-19 roster has yet to be updated, it’s unclear as to whether or not Lowe is the only loss from last year’s team.
Guard Angelo Sarsonas led the team on the offensive end of the floor last season, his first in the CCAA. The product of Toronto led the Lancers with an average of 14.2 points per game while appearing in all 20 games, 17 of which were starts. The point guard also chipped in with 3.4 rebounds and a team-best 3.0 assists per contest. Sarsonas shot 41.2% from the field and 39.5% from three-point range on the year.
When adjusted, Sarsonas averaged over 18 points per 40 minutes of court time.
While Sarsonas had himself a strong debut season for Loyalist, he wasn’t the only first-year player to show some promise for the Lancers heading into the future. Forwards Raymond Yeung and Williamson Dorelien had themselves strong seasons at Loyalist to kick off their collegiate careers.
Yeung averaged 12.3 points per contest over the course of the year, good for the second-best mark on the team behind Sarsonas. The 6’3” wing from Richmond Hill, ON added 3.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. On the Lancers’ roster page online, Yeung is the second tallest player on the team (Christopher Asomani, 6’4”).
Dorelien held his own on both ends of the floor, posting 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Dorelien finished the season third on the team in rebounding, and will only improve on that statistic as he continues to gain experience in the OCAA.
The aforementioned Asomani led the Lancers with 9.6 rebounds per game last season. The 6’4” forward from North York, ON was a fourth-year player last season, so he could be back for his fifth year of eligibility in 2018-19.
Loyalist hasn’t won a medal at the OCAA Championships since they picked up a bronze medal back in the 2004-05 season. The medal drought has now reached 13 seasons, but you can bet that the Lancers are hoping that this year is the year that they bring it to an end.
The Lancers have some young talent back this season, in Sarsonas, Yeung and Dorelien. All three players add intrigue to the roster as Loyalist will look to climb above the .500 mark in OCAA play and advance back to the OCAA Championships. Time will tell how it all plays out, but the 2018-19 season should serve as another step in the right direction for the program, even if they miss the podium once more.
– T. Bennett