BY JOHN DECOSTE
The Acadia basketball Axemen showed what kind of team they might be this year in capturing the Stu Aberdeen Challenge with a pair of impressive wins.
The Axemen, coached by assistants Steve Baur and Kevin Veinot in the absence of suspended head coach Les Berry, defeated the Ryerson Rams 91-69 Saturday, Oct. 13 and topped the Victoria Vikings 79-61 the following afternoon.
Both Ryerson and Victoria played Acadia, SMU and St. F.X. in their home gyms, with the AUBC team with the best record and point differential capturing the challenge trophy, named for legendary former Axemen basketball coach Stu Aberdeen.
SMU also finished the weekend 2-0, but Acadia was awarded the trophy on the basis of point differential.
The Huskies defeated Ryerson 106-73 and edged Victoria 55-54, but their differential of 34 was less than Acadia’s 40. The Axemen also scored more points overall (170 to 161).
St. F.X. lost 73-69 to Victoria before defeating Ryerson 76-53, leaving them a distant third with a 1-1 record and a point differential of 19.
Saturday evening at NKEC in Canning, the Axemen led 21-14 after one quarter and 46-27 at halftime after leading by as many as 22 points in the second quarter.
Axemen increase lead
Acadia increased its lead to 76-51 after three quarters and led by 29 at one point in the final 15 minutes en route to an easy win.
Leo Saintil, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, led five Axemen in double figures in scoring as Acadia shot 65 per cent from the floor in the first half and 54 per cent overall.
The Axemen were also 10-19 from three point range compared to 3-7 for Ryerson, which shot better in the second half than in the opening 20 minutes.
Luckern Dieu added 16 points, Shawn Berry 13, Peter Leighton 11 (including three three-pointers) and Andrew Kraus 10, while Paulo Santana fell just short with nine points. Brandon Krupa and Boris Bakovic had 16 each and Igor Bakovic 14 for Ryerson.
On Sunday, also at NKEC, Acadia again got off to a great start, leading 24-9 after one quarter and 45-28 at halftime on 58 per cent (18-31) shooting from the floor, including four of five threes.
The Axemen won the third quarter 22-16, and Victoria the fourth 17-12, but the Vikings were still no closer than 18 points at the end.
Very pleased with weekend
Saintil had a huge game for the Axemen with 34 points and 18 rebounds, 10 of which came on the offensive end. Santana added 15 points and seven boards and Shawn Berry 10 points and six rebounds. Mitch Gudgeon led Victoria with 15 points and four boards. “We were very pleased with the weekend,” Veinot said last week. “Ryerson has a big team, but we felt if we played to our potential, we were quicker than they were.”
Victoria “is a better team.” To be successful, “we had to make sure we were focused and got off to a good start, and we did that to a ‘T’,” opening the game with a 19-2 run.
Veinot described Saintil as “like a man among boys” in both weekend games. Both opponents “were a bit bigger and stronger than us, but they had no answer for Leo, and when they collapsed on him, we were clicking on all cylinders. “To play at that level for that length of time against a good team (like Victoria) was encouraging,” he said. “We feel we still have a way to go to be as good as we can, but we’re better than we expected to be at this point.”
BY JOHN DECOSTE