Ben MacDougall and Jack Somers know what’s at stake.
The two senior forwards with the Three Oaks Axemen’s No. 1 team will look to win their first-ever Three Oaks Senior High School Christmas Classic senior basketball tournament championship. It will mark the final time MacDougall and Somers will play in the Christmas Classic, which begins on Thursday evening and concludes Saturday afternoon.
“It would be very meaningful (to win the tournament) because it is here and it’s been a while since Three Oaks won it and it would be nice to do it in front of our home fans,” said Somers, 18.
The Axemen, who last raised the Christmas Classic’s championship banner in 2011, have been close the last couple of years, losing in back-to-back finals to Dartmouth High. The defending champions are not returning this year.
“We have not won it with our group that came in together in Grade 10,” said MacDougall. “It would be nice to win it, especially since we are playing at a pretty high level now.”
The Axemen took a 3-0 (won-lost) record into Wednesday night’s road game against the Westisle Wolverines in P.E.I. School Athletic Association Senior Boys Basketball League play. Three Oaks went 4-0 in capturing the Bluefield tournament recently.
Somers said he’s looking forward to playing in the Axemen’s home gym this weekend.
“We have to play as fast as we can and shoot a lot of three-pointers,” said Somers, pointing out keys to the Axemen’s success.
“It would be very meaningful (to win the tournament) because it is here and it’s been a while since Three Oaks won it and it would be nice to do it in front of our home fans.”
- Jack Somers
This year’s event has attracted 12 teams from P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
“It’s always exciting to get out there and the Christmas Classic usually brings out some big crowds,” said MacDougall. “It will be nice this year with our new bleachers and hopefully we can get back to the final.”
The teams are split into four three-team pools and the Axemen are in Pool A with Central Kings from Cambridge, N.S., and Amherst, N.S.
“Hopefully we can go 2-0 and get into the semis,” said MacDougall.
The first-place teams will meet in the semifinals on Saturday morning and the championship game goes later in the day at 1:45 p.m.
Somers understands there is no room for error with this format.
“If you lose a single game you can’t win the tournament,” said Somers. “You have to start strong right at the start and be ready to go.”
No. 2 team
The Three Oaks No. 2 team is also playing in the tournament and will compete in Pool D with Westisle and St. Malachy’s from Saint John, N.B.
A breakdown of Three Oaks Christmas Classic pools:
Pool A – Three Oaks No. 1, Central Kings (Cambridge, N.S.), Amherst, N.S.
Pool B – Charlottetown Rural, Breton Education Centre (New Waterford, N.S.), École Saint Anne (Fredericton, N.B.).
Pool C – Colonel Gray, Halifax West, Bluefield.
Pool D – Three Oaks No. 2, Westisle, St. Malachy’s (Saint John, N.B.).
Three Oaks Christmas Classic schedule:
Thursday, Dec. 12
At Bluefield High School:
5 p.m. – Colonel Gray vs. Bluefield.
At Three Oaks:
6:15 p.m. – Westisle vs. Three Oaks No. 2.
8 p.m. – Three Oaks No. 1 vs. Central Kings.
Friday, Dec. 13
At Athena Consolidated:
12:15 p.m. – Halifax West vs. Colonel Gray.
2 p.m. – St. Malachy’s vs. Westisle.
4:45 p.m. – Breton Education Centre vs. École Saint Anne.
6:30 p.m. – Bluefield vs. Halifax West.
At Three Oaks:
12:15 p.m. – Charlottetown Rural vs. École Saint Anne.
2 p.m. – Amherst vs. Central Kings.
3:40 p.m. – Star shooting and three-point contests.
4:45 p.m. – St. Malachy’s vs. Three Oaks No. 2.
6:30 p.m. – Amherst vs. Three Oaks No. 1.
8:15 p.m. – Charlottetown Rural vs. Breton Education Centre.
Saturday, Dec. 14
8:30 a.m. – Third-place team in Pool B vs. third-place team in Pool C.
10:15 a.m. – Semifinal: First-place team in Pool B vs. first-place team in Pool C.
Noon – Second-place team in Pool B vs. second-place team in Pool C.
At Three Oaks:
8:30 a.m. – Third-place team in Pool A vs. third-place team in Pool D.
10:15 a.m. – Semifinal: First-place team in Pool A vs. first-place team in Pool B.
Noon – Second-place team in Pool A vs. second-place team in Pool D.
1:45 p.m. – Championship: Winners of 10:15 a.m. semifinals games.