Axemen win opener

Jason Simmonds
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Prince Andrew, Charlottetown Rural also post victories

SUMMERSIDE – The host Three Oaks Axemen opened the 21st annual Christmas Classic on a winning note Thursday night.  

The Axemen downed the Bluefield Bobcats 76-26 in one of three round-robin games in the senior AAA boys’ basketball tournament on Thursday’s opening day of play. The defending-champion Prince Andrew Panthers from Halifax, N.S., defeated the Westisle Wolverines 89-50, and the Charlottetown Rural Raiders handed the Colonel Gray Colonels a 64-37 setback.

Axemen 72 Bobcats 26

The Axemen led 23-12 at halftime at the Three Oaks gymnasium, and then limited Bluefield to just seven third-quarter points in taking a 59-19 lead into the final period.

 “We were pretty slow starting in the first half, which has plagued us early this season,” assessed Axemen head coach Faro Halupa. “We found a way to start to get going in the second quarter, and we came out in the third and finally put it all together and put the game out of reach probably in the first five minutes.

“One of the things we’ve been striving to do is get our intensity level up and get on top of things before the game is close at the end.”

Halupa really liked the way the Axemen played defensively.

“We really helped each other, which is another thing we’ve been really focusing on,” said Halupa. “Instead of worrying about our own guy we’re trying to think about helping first and then get back to our own guy.

“We started to see more of that tonight (Thursday) than we have.”

Offensively, Aiden Smith poured in 17 points to lead the Axemen while Jordan Black added 15 and James Meek chipped in with 11.

Nick Jackson (18) and Brian Mahoney (5) were Bluefield’s top scorers.

The Axemen play twice on Friday against Amherst at 2:15 p.m., and Miramichi Valley at 6:45 p.m. The Amherst game will be played in front of the student body at Three Oaks.

Panthers 89 Wolverines 50

At Three Oaks, Tyshon Boutlier (15), Lindell Wigginton (13) and Marcus Hall (12) led the way offensively for the Panthers, who built a 49-22 lead at the half.

Kenan Wilkie scored a game-high 24 points for the Wolverines while Andrew Gough had eight and Austin Luxton contributed seven.

Players of the game were Hall and Kent Doucette (Wolverines).

Rural 64 Gray 37

At Charlottetown Rural, the Raiders limited their cross-city rivals to just 13 first-half points while scoring 39.

Players of the game were Dylan Terstege (Rural) and Yousef Sefau (Gray).

No scoring statistics are available.

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

Organizations: Charlottetown Rural Raiders, Panthers

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Halifax, Amherst Jordan Miramichi Valley

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