Raiders down Axemen to take AA Boys tournament win

Ryan Cooke
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SUMMERSIDE – The Charlottetown Rural Raiders took home a championship plaque Saturday afternoon, downing the host Three Oaks Axemen, 96-63, at the Three Oaks AA Boys Basketball invitational tournament.

Charlottetown Rural's Tanner Ogg drives the basket and slips a layup past Three Oaks' Colton Wadman. Rural downed the Axemen 93-63 in Saturday's final of Three Oaks' AA Boys Basketball invitational tournament. 

SUMMERSIDE – The Charlottetown Rural Raiders took home a championship plaque Saturday afternoon, downing the host Three Oaks Axemen, 96-63, at the Three Oaks AA Boys Basketball invitational tournament.

The Axemen looked good early on, but let the game slip away from them in the second quarter, en route to a 93-63 loss in Saturday afternoon’s final.

“It feels good to win like that,” said Rural centre Keegan Lazaric, who was second in scoring in the game, with 19 points. “We put in a better team effort from the second quarter onwards, and it paid off.”

After taking charge with an 11-0 run to start the game, the Axemen found themselves up 26-23 at the end of the first quarter.

The teams exchanged baskets early on in the second before Rural began to pull away from Three Oaks, with Lazaric grabbing a rebound and putting it back to take the lead for the first time in the game. They wouldn’t fall behind again for the remainder of the game.

Lazaric took over control of the paint in the second, engaging in a strong head-to-head battle with Three Oaks centre Zach Mallet. A good mix of inside work and outside shooting put the Raiders ahead 52-40 after the first half.

Three Oaks would show signs of life midways through the third, with Mallet delivering a huge block on a rushing Raiders player. Hoyan Arsenault and Colton Wadman would make free throws for the Axemen before the Raiders stifled the momentum again with a pair of baskets of their own.

Lazaric took control of the game in the fourth, opening the final frame with eight straight points. The rest of the frame would go much the same way, with the Raiders coming out on top at the final buzzer.

“It’s a big win for our boys,” said Raiders coach Kyle Gillis. “We started off not really playing the way we are capable of, but we got it together and then everything turned around for us.”

With another invitational tournament and 10 regular season games left before playoffs, this weekend’s win is a lesson learned for the Raiders.

“We can’t be waiting until the second quarter to get the ball rolling,” Gillis said. “We have to get going early, with high intensity, and play the way we practice.”

The game also serves as a lesson for the Axemen, who will regroup and refocus after the loss.

“A loss is good for kids,” said head coach Les Smith. “It helps them grow as individuals and as players and it will make them fight even harder the next time we play.”

“We’ll see (Rural) again in the provincials, and we’ll be ready.” 

Organizations: Charlottetown Rural Raiders, AA Boys

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