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Charlottetown Rural Raiders get their redemption


MacCallum named MVP as Rural defeats Three Oaks in PEISAA boys' basketball final

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The sting of losing the provincial final two years in a row drove the Charlottetown Rural Raiders all season long.

They marked the calendar for the day in March when they would have a chance for redemption. Tuesday, they seized the moment.

“We talked about it all year long. We were thinking about this game,” said Logan MacCallum, who led the way with 23 points. “We’re going to be ready and we’re going to take this one.”

Fellow Grade 12s Parker Roche, Thomas Hogan and Will Vidito contributed 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively, as the Raiders defeated the Three Oaks (TOSH) Axemen 81-72 to claim the Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association Domino’s senior AAA boys’ basketball banner Tuesday at UPEI. Grade 11 Jose Chrisostomo added 12 points.

“To finally, finally win it all is a great feeling,” said MacCallum. “We’ve been here three years in a row. We lost in Grade 10 and 11 and this one really means a lot for the guys here graduating.”

Head coach Kyle Gillis was proud of all his players, particularly the ones who persevered after losing in previous seasons.

“When you get that taste of defeat or come up short when . . . you really do believe you are the team that should hold the banner, you have to hold that (feeling) the whole year,” he said. “I couldn't be more proud of the way the guys came out today. . . They deserve this.”

RELATED: It was the second AAA banner the Raiders won on the night.

The Axemen had the upper hand early and led 8-5 when MacCallum was sent to the free-throw line. Three Oaks students gathered behind the Axemen bench gave him an earful, chanting “Overrated. Overrated.”

He calmly knocked down the shot to make it 8-6.

“I kind of embrace that. I like the energy from the crowd,” MacCallum said. “I loved it. It was a great game to be part of.”

Ben MacDougall hit a shot to put Three Oaks up 10-6 before the Raiders went on a 10-0 run to lead 16-10 and never trailed again, holding 25-20, 43-32 and 70-55 quarter leads.

Vidito and Nolan Ryan hit back-to-back threes to start the fourth quarter as different players rose to the occasion when called upon for the Raiders.

“Nolan is a great shooter and that shot he hit, I think, was the cap on our run. It gave us just enough cushion,” Gillis said. “You can’t script that.”

The Axemen cut the lead to seven before MacCallum hit a trey that seemed to hang on the rim forever with about two minutes to play.

“We showed a lot of fight,” said TOSH coach Faro Halupa, noting how much energy the team exerted to make up the early deficit. “Credit to them, they played really well. . . They made big shots down the stretch.”

MacDougall had a game-high 27 points to pace the Axemen while Sahib Singh added 25, Spencer Rossiter nine and Vlersim Musliu eight, six rebounds and seven steals.

The atmosphere is unlike anything the teams play in during the regular season. Fans travel to the game to support their schools. It’s a great opportunity for them to play in that environment, Halupa said.

“It’s loud. It’s hard to coach in there. The kids can’t hear you,” he said. “You’re screaming. Your voice is going in the third quarter and you know it.”

Gillis, 24, is in his sixth season of coaching but this was his first year at this level. The Stratford native played for the Raiders and against Three Oaks assistant coach Mark Matheson.

Gillis was part of a banner-winning team in Grade 10 but wasn’t able to hold the banner again.

He said he was fortunate to have Ryan Keliher to lean on as an assistant on the coaching staff this season.

While the Raiders do have six graduating players, Gillis is excited with four instrumental building blocks returning. They are athletic wing Thomas Docherty, a gritty player and perimeter defender in Ryan, big man Isaac Hughes, who came into his own in the second half of the season, and point guard Sam Birtwhistle.

Halupa said Three Oaks can return its entire starting lineup and only has two Grade 12s. Some of the returnees were part of last year’s team and that experience will help them next season.

Bronze-medal game

Ian Kerr had a game-high 28 points to lead the Colonel Gray Colonels to a 72-65 victory over the Westisle Wolverines to win the bronze-medal game.

The Colonels led 19-16 after the first quarter but trailed 39-31 at the half. They responded to take a 46-45 lead with 3:21 to play in the third quarter and grew the lead to 50-45 heading to the fourth.

Jeremy Norman had 14 points in the win while Yahya Sefau added 12 and Keegan Carty chipped in eight.

Chris Ramsey scored 24 to pace the Wolverines while Jonathan Smith added 12, Matthew Smith 11 and Logan Dawson eight.


Award winners

A look at the award winners from the Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association Domino’s senior AAA boys’ basketball tournament.

All-stars

Chris Ramsey, Westisle

Ian Kerr, Colonel Gray

Parker Roche, Charlottetown Rural

Vlersim Musliu, Three Oaks

Ben MacDougall, Three Oaks

MVP

Logan MacCallum, Charlottetown Rural

Rural head coach Kyle Gillis said: “He is the cog in the wheel that makes everything go.”

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