SUMMERSIDE – There is no doubt the Dartmouth Spartans were the class of the 2018 Christmas Classic.
The Spartans defeated the host Three Oaks Axemen 107-65 in the championship game to not only repeat as champions of the senior AAA boys-calibre basketball tournament’s 25th edition in Summerside on Saturday afternoon, but go undefeated for the second year in a row.
“They did a good job,” assessed Spartans coach Lance Sparks following the final. “I was overall really impressed with how well everyone played this weekend.”
Dartmouth, which is 20-0 (won-lost) in league and tournament play, also posted round-robin victories of 116-73 over Charlottetown Rural and 140-75 versus Ecole Sainte-Anne, and a 121-74 semifinal win over Halifax West.
“They might be the best team in the Maritimes,” acknowledged Axemen head coach Faro Halupa. “They have beaten (Bernice) MacNaughton, which is the top team in New Brunswick, and are undefeated in the Metro league.”
The Spartans, led by Jaushaun Downey’s 15 first-half points, took control of the game early en route to building a 65-26 advantage at halftime, and never looked back after a convincing 121-74 decision over Halifax West in the semifinals.
“We played with a lot of energy,” said Spartans’ five-foot-11 guard Kyrie Thompson, who was named the tournament most valuable player, was an offensive catalyst all weekend and poured in a game-high 25 points in the final. “We had a lot of energy in the warm-up, and it translated into a fast start and we kept it going from there.”
Sparks talked about the important role Thompson, who is in Grade 10, carries with the Spartans.
“He a young leader, a very talented kid,” said Sparks. “We thrive off his speed and typically when he’s going early it gets the rest of the team going.”
Downey finished with 18 points while other top scorers for the Spartans were Malachi McCombie (9), Benn Harrington (8), Jonah Mosher (8), Kai Badger (8) and Cairo Berry (8).
Justin Caron’s 16-point effort led the Axemen, who received 13 points from Ben MacDougall and 11 from Sahib Singh.
The Axemen, who are off to a 3-0 start in P.E.I. School Athletic Association league play, finished play in the 12-team tournament with a record of 3-1. Three Oaks posted round-robin wins of 92-50 over the Colonel Gray Colonels of Charlottetown and 67-43 versus the Amherst Vikings. Three Oaks, led by Ben MacDougall’s 17 points, then prevailed 68-60 over the Westisle Wolverines in an all-Prince County semifinal on Saturday morning.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Halupa in assessing his team’s weekend performance. “When you play good teams, win or lose, at this time of the year, you are trying to take some things away that will help you down the road.”
Christmas Classic basketball tournament scores:
Three Oaks 92 Colonel Gray 50
Westisle 88 James M. Hill 52
Dartmouth 116 Charlottetown Rural 75
Colonel Gray 59 Amherst 51
Halifax West 115 Fredericton 69
Charlottetown Rural 90 École Saint-Anne 69
Fredericton 79 Bluefield 53
Three Oaks 67 Amherst 43
Westisle 89 Bathurst 62
Halifax West 131 Bluefield 45
Dartmouth 140 École Saint-Anne 75
James M. Hill vs. Bathurst (score unavailable)
Amherst 78 Bathurst 47
Charlottetown Rural 104 Fredericton 65
Colonel Gray 72 James M. Hill 48
Dartmouth 121 Halifax West 74
Three Oaks 68 Westisle 0
Dartmouth 107 Three Oaks 65