Axemen expect big things

Jason Simmonds
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SUMMERSIDE – Last year, the Three Oaks Axemen won the Summerside high school’s first-ever Christmas Classic championship.

Now the Axemen are looking to win back-to-back titles in this week’s 19th annual senior AAA-calibre basketball tournament, which runs Thursday to Saturday.

“Honestly, the goal coming into the year is – first and foremost – obviously wanting to win provincials,” said Axemen head coach Faro Halupa. “Winning the Christmas Classic is a great goal to have.

“Our goal this year is to win every tournament we play in. You don’t ever want to lose games, and we expect to win.

“Other years we probably hoped we would be there at the end, but this year we expect at the end we should be there. If we don’t, it will be disappointing for myself and the guys.”

 

Return four starters

The defending P.E.I. School Athletic Association senior AAA-champion Axemen return four starting Grade 12s – Mark Matheson, Alec Parise, Dylan Gallant and Lucas Coughlin.

“They are all contributors,” said Halupa. “Mark and Alec are both big-time players.

“Mark was the MVP of the provincials, and was also MVP of the Christmas Classic (last year), and he’s back. We expect to see a lot from him (Matheson).

“Alec had a great summer playing basketball, and his game has improved quite a bit from last year. He’ll be a contributor.

“Lucas is one of our other big kids. Skill progression for him (Coughlin) is huge, and he’s come a long way.

“Dylan is our speed. He’s the one who allows us to push the ball, get out and get going and not just rely on our big kids all the time.”

What Halupa likes about this year’s Axemen is that he feels they have a bit of everything.

“We have big kids, but they are just not big kids,” said Halupa. “They are athletic; they are skilled; we have speed in the back court; we have some kids who can really push the ball up the floor, and we have shooting.

“Honestly, the goal coming into the year is – first and foremost – obviously wanting to win provincials. Winning the Christmas Classic is a great goal to have. Our goal this year is to win every tournament we play in. You don’t ever want to lose games, and we expect to win. Other years we probably hoped we would be there at the end, but this year we expect at the end we should be there. If we don’t, it will be disappointing for myself and the guys.” Axemen head coach Faro Halupa

“Even our big kids can shoot the ball, which makes it really hard to defend against us. . . Our top-end talent is very high, but the rest of the guys won’t be left behind by any means.”

The Axemen are off to a good start this season. They recently won the Bluefield tournament, and have defeated Colonel Gray and Bluefield in league play.

“We have a good mix of Grades 10s, 11s and 12s, and almost all of them have contributed at some point,” said Halupa. “We have played a lot of games with a wide margin of scores, so those kids (who normally do not play big minutes) have got in games early.

“This is great, especially leading into our own tournament. Now we have more kids who can contribute down the line.”

 

jpsports@journalpioneer.com

 

 

The Team

 

Three Oaks Axemen’s team roster:

4. Tanner Mendoza, guard (Grade 10).

5. James Meek, post (Grade 10).

6. Adam Gallant, guard (Grade 11).

7. Colin MacKay, guard (Grade 10).

8. Mark Matheson, post (Grade 12).

9. Colin Arsenault, guard (Grade 11).

10. Dylan Gallant, guard (Grade 12).

11. Andrew Brawn, guard (Grade 11).

12. Luke Thompson, post (Grade 11).

13. Aiden Smith, guard (Grade 10).

14. Patrick Murray, guard (Grade 11).

15. Lucas Coughlin, post (Grade 12).

20. Alec Parise, post (Grade 12).

Coaches: Faro Halupa and Jennifer Halupa.

Organizations: PEI School

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