SUMMERSIDE – The Dartmouth High Spartans capped an undefeated weekend in Summerside on an impressive note.
The Spartans overcame an early deficit to defeat the host Three Oaks Axemen 117-80 in Saturday afternoon’s championship game of the 24th edition of the Christmas Classic basketball tournament, sponsored by Holland College.
“We knew they were going to be strong,” said Axemen head coach Faro Halupa. “It’s what we need. Every time you play you want to be pushed, and they pushed us for sure.
“I thought that we responded pretty well. The game was closer than the score indicated. We really fought, we weren’t scared and we didn’t give up, and that’s all you can ask for in a game when you are playing another really strong team.”
Dartmouth concluded the three-day, eight-team tournament, which attracted senior AAA boys-calibre entries from P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, at 4-0 (won-lost). Three Oaks went 3-1.
The Axemen jumped out to an early 14-6 lead that had a big crowd at the Three Oaks Senior High School gymnasium into the game early. However, the Spartans rebounded to outscore the Axemen 22-8 over the final four minutes of the opening quarter to take a 28-22 lead.
“We started off slow, but called a timeout, regrouped and came back out and finished strong,” said Spartans’ five-foot-10 guard Kyrie Thompson, who poured in a game-high 32 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “We made a couple of switches on defence, we talked on defence and good defence leads to offence.”
Jonah Mosher (26), Chris Johnston (16) and Ben Harrington (16) also had big games offensively for Dartmouth, which opened up a 59-37 lead at halftime.
Ethan Boyd’s 21 points led the Axemen, who received 20 from Ben MacDougall and 15 from Logan Cameron.
Halupa added the Axemen learned lots of lessons against the Spartans.
“The pressure you see from a team like that, you don’t see from a team on P.E.I. for 40 minutes,” explained Halupa, who added the Spartans play a lot more physical style than the Axemen are accustomed to on P.E.I. “It’s nice to see things like that for the entire time.
“It’s nice to see teams you can learn lessons from just by the way they play, and you can take some things from them and try to incorporate that into your game. The end goal is provincials, and games like this just help us build to be a better team for that . . . You don’t want easy games; easy games aren’t how you get better.”
Thompson, who was competing in his first Christmas Classic, said one thing the Spartans wanted to do early in the final was to take the boisterous crowd out of the game.
“It was a good tournament and a good atmosphere in the gym for the championship game,” said Thompson, a 15-year-old Grade 9 student from Dartmouth, N.S. “I like the way it was run.”
A man who was synonymous with the athletic program at Three Oaks Senior High School for many years was remembered before the championship game of the Christmas Classic.
Fred Ripley passed away recently, but his contributions at the Summerside high school go back many years.
Ripley, who retired as a teacher at Three Oaks in 1999, played a key role in the development of the Christmas Classic, and was one of the tournament’s original organizers.
Ripley was also the first football coach at Three Oaks, and he coached Axemen teams in men’s basketball, softball and volleyball for a number of years. He also officiated university basketball for approximately 25 years.
At A Glance
A look at the 2017 Christmas Classic:
Three Oaks 3 0
St. Malachy’s 2 1
Amherst 1 2
Bluefield 0 3
Dartmouth 3 0
Colonel Gray 2 1
Charlottetown Rural 1 2
Fredericton High 0 3
St. Malachy’s 86 Amherst 58
Dartmouth 114 Fredericton High 91
Seventh place: Fredericton 84 Bluefield 58
Fifth place: Amherst 72 Charlottetown Rural 61
Third place: Colonel Gray 89 St. Malachy’s 71
Championship: Dartmouth 117 Three Oaks 80
Colonel Gray 89 Fredericton High 82
Three Oaks 105 St. Malachy’s 59
Amherst 101 Bluefield 63
Charlottetown Rural 92 Fredericton High 79
Dartmouth 104 Colonel Gray 82
St. Malachy’s 90 Bluefield 56
Dartmouth 129 Charlottetown Rural 54
Three Oaks 74 Amherst 63
Three Oaks 96 Bluefield (52
Colonel Gray 69 Charlottetown Rural 66
Ethan Boyd’s 21 points led the Axemen, who received 20 from Ben MacDougall and 15 from Logan Cameron. Boyd and Cameron were named tournament all-stars.
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