By Martin Cleary
When Gary Craig passed away March 22, 2022, the news was a shocking blow to Pat Stoqua.
They knew each other as long-ago students and basketball teammates at Lisgar Collegiate Institute.
“Gary wasn’t a starter (on the Lisgar Lords boys’ senior basketball team). But he was a reliable backup. He was a good guy and a good teammate. We lost touch over the years, but I saw him at dinner a few years ago,” Stoqua recalled in a phone interview this week.
When cancer took Craig’s life, “it was an eye opener for me,” Stoqua added. “We were teammates. It was sad news to hear. It got me thinking.”
That thinking turned to action about six months ago. It was time for a reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the undefeated Lisgar basketball team (44-0) winning the OFSAA championship.
He hadn’t seen some of his former teammates since that championship season and the others on a more sporadic basis. (Craig was not a member of the 1974 OFSAA championship team, but was part of the Lisgar basketball program in previous years and known to many of the players).
It was time to come together, to celebrate a great high school achievement, to reminisce, to eat, to tell stories, to golf and to be thankful the 11 members of that OFSAA team and two coaches could gather for a weekend.
“We had to do something special. It was time to celebrate now,” Stoqua said. “It’s awesome everyone is still around. You don’t know what tomorrow holds for everyone.”
And the 50th anniversary reunion is even more special for one individual, Doug Sally, a starting forward who stepped away from the Lords at the Christmas break in 1973.
Sally, a former centre on the team before the arrival of K.C. Keller from California and the promotion of Lisgar junior coach Larry Hale to replace senior coach Pat O’Brien, told teammates he needed more time to focus on his studies.
“We were all a little surprised when he made his announcement to concentrate on his studies,” Stoqua remembered. “We all accepted it.”
But there also was an underlying reason.
Sally was the elder statesman on the Lords as a third-year senior in his graduating Grade 13 year. He thought he should have been named a team captain, but that didn’t materialize. In general, he felt unappreciated.
“At the time, I told everyone it was for my marks. I didn’t have a really successful first semester and it was important to pull a rabbit out of a hat,” Sally said earlier this week in a phone interview.
“At the same time, I was a little disillusioned in my role as an athlete at Lisgar. I had some baggage. I never felt any recognition and it became more apparent that year after I left the team. Somehow, I wasn’t on the track and field team in the yearbook, after I won regional and city meets and was second at another meet.
“It’s more a case they didn’t need me. There was no recognition of me being there. Scholastically … I needed more time to hit the books.”
When Sally heard about the reunion, he wasn’t sure if he would be invited as he only played the first half of the 1973-74 season and wasn’t in the lineup for the Ottawa and OFSAA championship tournaments.
But when he spoke to Stoqua, all was good and Sally received an invitation.
“I was very pleased to be included,” Sally said. “I reached out to Pat: ‘Am I in and considered part of the team?’ He said: ‘Absolutely.’
“I look forward to seeing the guys. I see some of them from time to time. I’m not sure what they’ll think. It will be an interesting few days.”
Stoqua will welcome Sally back with open arms.
“This is a time to celebrate everything and everybody,” he said. “We’re happy to have Doug included.”
When the Lords qualified for the 1974 OFSAA basketball championship – there was only one division open to all schools back then – they were undefeated, had won five tournaments around the province and captured the Ottawa and Ottawa Valley titles.
The Lords, who won the consolation round at the 1973 OFSAA championship, advanced to the 1974 provincial final, after capturing their first three games. In the final, which was played before a capacity crowd of 3,000 fans in the University of Waterloo gymnasium, Lisgar didn’t take the lead until three minutes left in the fourth quarter and then pulled away to a 48-39 win over Glendale of Tillsonburg.
It was the final win in a remarkable 44-0 season.
“Everybody got along so well,” Stoqua said proudly. “We could have had one of seven different players be the high scorer in a game. But no one cared who was the high scorer. We were all very unselfish. Just hit the open man. We just wanted to win.
“Whoever got the ball and had the opportunity to score, scored. We were happy for them, whether it was Larry, Curly or Moe. Nobody cared less about MVPs or all-star teams. It was a collective group with a mission. We were pretty grounded.”
That grounded group will gather Friday through Sunday for rounds of golf, several meals and a special Saturday evening presentation. Lisgar alumni also will take part in some events.
The reunion will bring together players John Horwitz, Peter Metuzals, K.C. Keller, Bob Sebera, Joe Sidoli, Larry Kane, Matt King, Pat Stoqua, Ray Dyck, Dan Kelly, Don Gilchrist and Doug Sally, coaches Larry Hale (head) and Hugh Reid (assistant) and Ron Hughes, manager.
ASHBURY, NCSSAA SEEK FIRST OFSAA BOYS’ RUGBY TITLE
Ashbury College has an opportunity to make double history Saturday at the OFSAA boys’ A/AA rugby championship in Belleville.
The undefeated Colts are scheduled to play Crescent in the afternoon final and will be trying to win the private school’s first boys’ provincial high school rugby championship as well as giving the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association its first champion at any level.
By contrast, the Ashbury girls’ rugby program has captured four OFSAA titles at the A/AA and AAA/AAAA divisions under head coach Jen Boyd.
Fifth-seeded Ashbury advanced to the boys’ A/AA championship game by defeating No. 11 Henry Street 26-14 in the semifinals for its third consecutive win. Crescent won the other semifinal 20-7 over LaSalle.
Cairine Wilson played a ranking game and lost 28-22 to Centennial.
At the OFSAA boys’ AAA rugby championship in Arva, Glebe grinded out a pair of wins Friday to advance to Saturday morning’s consolation final.
After losing its opening game Thursday to Saltfleet by a single point, Glebe defeated Barrie North 17-14 and Thomas A. Stewart 20-12. The Gryphons will play host Medway on its home field for fifth place.
Louis-Riel and Gisèle-Lalonde both have perfect records at OFSAA boys’ AA soccer championships and will play in semi-finals on opposite sides of the draw in Bradford.
Both schools finished the preliminary round undefeated at 4-0. Dan Muledi scored Riel’s game-winning goal in a 1-0 decision over Silverthorn on Friday. Riel posted its fourth consecutive shutout win by a 2-0 score over North Park as Xavie Fournier and Marius Doucet scored the goals.
Gisèle-Lalonde turned back Aldershot 1-0 and Bayside 5-1 in its final two round-robin matches. Tristan Ethier scored the only goal for Lalonde against Aldershot, while Hugo Bohlen earned his third shutout in a row.
El Yazid Sidelkheir counted two goals against Bayside and singles went to Abdu-Errahman Belacel, Mateo Paradis and Jalal Yamout.
Doucet scored the lone goal in Louis-Riel’s 1-0 quarter-final victory over the St. Oscar Romero Raiders, while Gisèle-Lalonde downed the L’Essor Aigles 3-1 in their quarter.
Louis-Riel will take on the Holy Trinity Tigers in the semis, while Gisèle-Lalonde faces the St. Paul Patriots. Medal matches will follow in early afternoon.
John McCrae earned its first win Friday at the OFSAA boys’ AAA soccer championship in Windsor, defeating Lo-Ellen Park 4-2. McCrae lost its other game 3-1 to Donald A. Wilson and missed the playoffs with a 1-3 round-robin record.
St. Mother Teresa and St. Francis Xavier also didn’t qualify for the playoffs at the OFSAA girls’ AAA soccer championship in Grimsby.
Mother Teresa suffered a pair of shutout losses to Blessed Trinity 5-0 and Resurrection 2-0 and finished the preliminary round with one win, one tie and two losses. Xavier defeated Garth Webb 4-1, but lost to Holy Names 3-1 and concluded its pool play at 1-3.
Garneau completed its round-robin play with a 1-2-1 record at the OFSAA girls’ AA soccer championship in Cobourg with a 2-1 victory over L’Essor and a 4-1 loss to Sir Winston Churchill.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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