The final score of the round-robin game in the 19th annual Christmas Classic senior AAA basketball tournament was 103-97.
“It was an exciting game,” said Axemen head coach Faro Halupa. “I thought we had an advantage in size down low, but we turned the ball over to give that advantage away. These are the kind of games you want to play, especially when you win them. You learn a lot in games like this. You learn about players, you learn about composure and those are things that are going to help us not only in this tournament, but later in the season as well.”
In Thursday’s other boys’ game, the Millwood Knights from Nova Scotia defeated the Bluefield Bobcats 87-30.
Before a noisy crowd at the Three Oaks gymnasium, the Axemen led 51-36 at the intermission and 74-66 after three quarters.
The Dragons refused to go away, and closed to within 74-73 with 8:24 remaining. The Axemen came right back and senior Alec Parise hit a three-pointer to make it 77-73.
After Millwood closed to within 81-79, Three Oaks received a clutch jump shot from Dylan Gallant, who finished with 31 points, and a three-pointer from player-of-the-game Colin Arsenault to make it 86-79 with 5:11 left. Arsenault had 24 points.
“He (Arsenault) made a lot of big shots,” said Halupa. “He played good defence, and had a couple of big defensive stops late in the game where he had a couple of steals. He’s only in Grade 11, but he’s not afraid of the moment at all.”
With Three Oaks up 95-90 with 1:43 remaining, Peter Keyser was fouled draining a three-point shot, and then hit the foul shot to complete the four-point play and make it 95-94.
Parise, who scored 26 points, then scored off offensive rebounds on Three Oaks’ next two possessions to make it 99-94 with 1:07 to go.
“It was an exciting game. I thought we had an advantage in size down low, but we turned the ball over to give that advantage away. These are the kind of games you want to play, especially when you win them. You learn a lot in games like this. You learn about players, you learn about composure and those are things that are going to help us not only in this tournament, but later in the season as well.” - Axemen head coach Faro Halupa
After Arsenault hit back-to-back free throws to make it 101-94, Chisholm hit another three-pointer to make it 101-97 with 27.6 seconds remaining. The Axemen’s Lucas Coughlin then hit twice from the free-throw line to close out the scoring with 23.8 seconds left.
“We’re not a young team, and there are eight kids back (from last year),” explained Halupa. “None of them are afraid to shoot the ball.
“Even though the game was on the line and they were starting to feel the pressure, they know when the ball comes in their hands and they are open they have to shoot the ball. As long as they are thinking like that, there’s a good chance they are going to make those shots.”
Brandon Miller had a game-high 38 points for the Knights, who received 27 from Keyser.
Millwood 87 Bluefield 30
At Summerside Intermediate School, Chris Donaldson recorded 27 points to lead the Knights, who built a comfortable 58-12 lead at halftime. Brandon LeRichie had 14 while Ryan Hill added 11.
Zach Marsh (9), Spencer Horne (8) and Matt Dawson (4) were Bluefield’s top scorers.
Players of the game were Shawn Lucas (Millwood) and Dawson (Bluefield).
Following is today’s schedule, with the location in parenthesis:
2 p.m. – Three Oaks vs. Colonel Gray (TOSH).
2 p.m. – Charlottetown Rural vs. Bluefield (SIS).
6 p.m. – Charlottetown Rural vs. Millwood (SIS).
8 p.m. – Colonel Gray vs. Lockview (TOSH).
End of round robin.