The 65-60 win for the Sooites extended the dominance of Sault Ste Marie schools, with local representatives shut out of OFSAA AA and AAA participation dating back to 2006.
Truth be told, the Lancers were not all that far off from snapping the skid.
The homeside jumped out to a 6-0 lead, were tied at 10-10, but closed out with an 8-0 first-quarter run, with the entire output coming courtesy of Kurtis Brisebois (two three-pointers in the mix).
Despite some foul trouble to all-star guard Anthony Iacoe, the Colts clawed back, narrowing the margin to 26-25 before Alex Mobbs hit for three, with seconds remaining in the half, for Lasalle.
But early in the third, the tide began to turn, as Korah held leads of 35-31, 40-33 and eventually 44-42 heading into the final eight minutes of play. Back-to-back three-point baskets from Anthony Ivey set the tone for the fourth, with Lasalle unable to close the gap below three points, even as 6-10 rebounding specialist Jonah Fogg limped off the court with a badly sprained ankle with 43 seconds to play.
Despite spending some time on the bench, Iacoe still managed to top all scorers with 29 points, with Fogg (15) and Ivey (12) also hitting double digits for Korah. Doug Malley led the way for Lasalle with 16 points, with Noah LaPierre (14) and Brisebois (11) not all that far behind.
"We knew that both teams matched up very well, and we knew that this would come down to the end," said Lasalle head coach Kyle Beers. "No matter who was going to go south, the north was going to be well represented."
After qualifying for OFSAA AAA basketball last year, the Colts take the first crack at the AA level from March 3-5 in Perth. Longtime coach Jeff Giovanatti is back, having shown absolutely no signs of panic with his team trailing in the early going.
"I thought we had some good looks and the ball just wasn't dropping," Giovanatti said. "The biggest thing for us was composure. I don't know if we play better from behind. We were down by 11 in the city championships and came back to win there."
Korah also benefits from a very nice mix at the offensive end of the court, with a variety of sharp-shooting weapons within their arsenal.
"I'm a big believer in team play," said Giovanatti. "I think we make it difficult for teams to decide what they want to take away, because rather than forcing it, we move to what other teams give us. Our guys are very unselfish that way."
Having competed at a number of top-end high school tournaments this year, the Colts were pleased with this final tune-up at a tempo that would be comparable to OFSAA competition.
"It's a definite advantage when you have to compete for the city championship with a tremendous team from St. Basil's and then match up with a great team here at Lasalle," Giovanatti said. "The more experience we get in big-game situations, learning to finish well at the free-throw line — well, you want those opportunities."
While the Lancers graduate six players from their squad, that still leaves them with seven incumbents, along with a solid influx of junior talent. Beers knows that it won't be long before a number of his players begin looking to 2015 as the year that SDSSAA sends a boys basketball team to OFSAA.
"I told them that as soon as they're ready to get back into the gym, I will be there with them," said Beers.
In the AA junior final, the Korah Colts avenged an opening game loss to the St. Charles College Cardinals, turning the tables when it mattered most and capturing the NOSSA banner with a 47-36 victory.
Jadon Fogg (14), Liam Brescacin (13) and Jarrett Litalien (11) topped the scoring parade for the Colts, with Matt Bell countering with a game-high 19-point effort in a losing cause, and Justin Savard chipping in with eight for the Cards.
In North Bay, the Superior Heights Steelhawks claimed the AAA NOSSA crown, defeating the Algonquin Barons 51-38. The Barons squashed the Sudbury hopes in semifinal play, besting the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes 52-41.
The Sault dominance continued in the junior ranks, with the St Mary's Knights knocking off the Confederation Chargers 64-55.