By John DeCoste
Even though they were playing shorthanded, the Acadia basketball Axemen probably could have been more pleased with their results at the Rod Shoveller tournament Dec. 29-31 at Dalhousie.
After shaking off the holiday rust with a 68-51 win over Laval in their Dec. 29 opener, the Axemen dropped a 73-59 decision to the host Tigers Dec. 30.
Against Laval, Acadia led 15-9 after a low scoring first quarter and 29-20 at halftime after winning the second quarter 14-11. The Axemen then won the third quarter 18-17 and the fourth 21-14 to win by 17.
Anthony Ashe led four Axemen in double figures with 16 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Tyler Scott added 14 points and seven rebounds, Owen Klassen 13 points and Jonathan Tull 10.
Klassen left the game with an ankle injury and ended up missing the Dal game.
His teammates fell behind 31-14 after one quarter and, while they did manage to win the second quarter 20-10, the Axemen ended up trailing most of the game.
Already missing Anthony Sears and Rhys Larry, Acadia struggled offensively without Klassen in the lineup. Scott (11 points) and Tull (10 points) were the only Axemen to reach double figures.
The Axemen committed 19 turnovers in the game, and also got no favours from the officials, who whistled 45 fouls, 25 of them called against Acadia. Ashe fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Brad States, Tull and Scott all finished with four fouls.
Head coach Steve Baur described the tournament as “a good challenge for us.” With all the injuries so far this season, “we’re still learning to play with what we have.”
Baur confirmed Klassen has been diagnosed with a severely sprained ankle.
“Our best guess is that he may be out four to five weeks,” he said. ”It’s up to us to learn to play without him. Some players will need to step up and take on different roles, which may end up being a positive.”
Compounding the Axemen woes, Larry will now miss the rest of the season with a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist.
“He actually had two breaks – as it turned out, one worse than the other. At first, we thought he wouldn’t miss much time, but it turns out it’s worse than we thought. It’s unfortunate, because he was off to a great start.”
On a positive note, Sears, who has not played yet this season due to a foot injury, has resumed running and working out.
“We don’t really have a timeline for him,” Baur said, “but he is getting closer (to returning to action) by the day.”
Baur felt “both teams were pretty rusty” in the Laval game, which added up to a lack of flow and a low-scoring game.
Against Dal, he said, they didn’t play well as a group.
“The biggest thing I felt was that we lacked energy. Whatever the cause, we weren’t as good as we have to be,” both in terms of “breakdowns on defense and miscues on offense.”
One positive was that Lauchlan Gale, one of the players who will need to step up in the absence of Klassen, had a strong game.
“We didn’t necessarily have a whole lot of players who stood out,” Baur said, “but Lauchlan was one of them.”
The Axemen were scheduled to kick off the 2013 portion of their AUBC schedule with a home game Jan. 5 against UPEI.