Axemen face Bluefield in evening game
SUMMERSIDE – A Christmas-time tradition will continue at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside this week.
The 21st annual Christmas Classic basketball tournament gets underway on Thursday evening.
“I’m really excited to see what type of competition is going to make it out this year,” said Three Oaks Axemen point guard Tanner Mendoza, 17. “There has always been a good turnout for our tournament, and I’m excited to play.”
A total of eight senior AAA boys’ teams are divided into two pools of four. The Axemen, Bluefield Bobcats, Miramichi Valley and Amherst comprise the Green Pool. The Charlottetown Rural Raiders, Colonel Gray Colonels, Westisle Wolverines and defending-champion Prince Andrew from Halifax, N.S., make up the Red Pool.
Teams will play a round-robin format within their pool, and the two first-place teams will meet in Saturday’s final at 3 p.m.
The Axemen’s opening game is an all-P.E.I. clash against the Hampshire-based Bobcats at 6 p.m.
“We have played them before, so we know what to expect going into that game,” said Ty Wright, a shooting guard with the Axemen.
Three Oaks will conclude round-robin play on Friday against Amherst at 2:15 p.m., and Miramichi Valley at 6:45 p.m. The Three Oaks-Amherst game will be played in front of the student body.
“I’m looking forward to that,” said Mendoza. “It’s always exciting to play in front of your peers.”
As seniors, this year marks the final Christmas Classic for Mendoza, Wright power forward James Meek and forward Aidan Smith.
“It brings in a lot of fans and it brings the school together,” said Mendoza. “It is a great event to have held at the school.”
Wright, 16, commented: “It’s a great experience. A lot of fans come out and we play one game in front of the school, which is always fun. There is always a lot of spirit from the community during the Christmas Classic.”
This year’s team
“It brings in a lot of fans and it brings the school together. It is a great event to have held at the school.” Three Oaks Axemen point guard Tanner Mendoza
This year’s edition of the Axemen features a young squad, which includes five Grade 10s – forward Chris Richard, guard Mateo Gomez, forward Matthew Arsenault, power forward Matthew Tanton and guard Jayden MacLean.
Grade 11s Max Hammer (guard) and Jordan Black (forward) round out the Axemen roster.
“We are developing throughout the year,” said Mendoza. “We keep getting better every game.”
Wright says playing with and maintaining high intensity will be a key for the Axemen.
“We lost a lot of size that we’ve had over the last couple of years, and we are a small but fast team,” said Wright. “Since we don’t have the size we have to play really intense. That is something we really have to look at coming into the games.”