NPH TOP PERFORMERS
- Owen Klassen– 28 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
- Anthony Ashe– 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists
- Sean Stoqua– 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steal
- Manock Lual– 30 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steals
- Donathan Moss– 19 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal
- Ollen Smith- 9 points, 5 assists, 1 steal
Wolfville, NS--The UPEI Panthers rolled into Acadia putting their slim four point lead in the standings and a possible first round bye on the line. In the first game on Friday night the Acadia Axemen closed the gap to two points by defeating the Panthers 90-74 in a very intense and physical game.
In a home game that almost seemed like a road game for the Axemen due to the large Annapolis Valley contingent from Coach Kendrick’s High School Coaching days, the Axemen showed great mental toughness.
Acadia closed the first quarter on a run and opened up a 25 – 15 lead. Acadia displayed a strong ability to play with composure and an ability to defend without fouling which would also be the story throughout the game. The Axemen allowed the Panthers to hang around and closed the half up 40-30.
As the game progressed it was clear it would be about the big man matchup between Manock Lual and Owen Klassen. These two bigs banged it out and worked for every point and rebound they posted.
Each hit the floor multiple times on no calls and on calls. In the end, Owen Klassen prevailed in the head to head matchup with a huge baseline dunk and a three to hold off a third and fourth quarter runs.
Anthony Ashe also played a pivotal role as he not only scored on a key tip in the fourth, but he also had multiple back taps for second shot opportunities. His ability to disrupt clean defensive rebounding didn’t allow UPEI to get out in easy transition a trademark of Kendrick coached teams.
With about six minutes remaining and UPEI making one last push at the 10 point Acadia lead, Coach Kendrick took his second Technical Foul (an automatic ejection) and killed any momentum the Panthers were getting. The Axemen jumped on the opportunity and extended the lead winning the fourth quarter 24-17 and giving the Axemen the 90-74 win.
The Axemen won this game at the line going 29/41 at the charity stripe compared to UPEI`s 11/23 and on the offensive glass out rebounding UPEI 17-8.
Sean Stoqua’s play was also a major factor as his ability to always be in the right spots at the right time broke up key offensive possessions for the Panthers.
Manock Lual’s ability to utilize the pivot in the paint and create scoring opportunities was very impressive and his play kept UPEI in the game throughout the game.
This was not a game for the feint of heart as these two teams really went at each other, however in speaking with NPH Coach Baur, he felt his teams mental and physical toughness helped them prevail as they were playing without leading scorer Anthony Sears due to injury.