NPH Top Performers
- Owen Klassen – 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 29 minutes
- Anthony Sears – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 36 minutes
- Jonathan Tull – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 34 minutes
- Anthony Ashe – 11 points, 8 rebounds, 31 minutes
St. Francis Xavier
- Jeremy Dunn – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 37 minutes
- Terry Thomas – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals, 37 minutes
Halifax, NS–With the teams heading to the CIS Final 8 already decided, there was one game left. The AUS Champion had yet to be decided as the Acadia Axemen faced off against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men for the third time this season.
Acadia emerged victorious in a game where they did not trail, defeating St. FX 82-71 to earn the AUS Championship. Last year the Axemen fell just short, losing in the AUS Championship game to the Dalhousie Tigers.
Coach Baur, head coach of Acadia talked about the progress of a season.
“The difference a year makes…last year we were just so excited to qualify for nationals we didn’t feel that we showed our best here on the stage. To come down and get the banner is what we really focused on this year and to win AUS’s is an exciting thing for us.”
Right from the start Acadia came out fired up. They shot the ball extremely well from behind the arc going 6/8 in the first quarter and 7/12 in the first half.
Jonathan Tull went 2/3 from three point range and spoke to NPH about the hot shooting his team experienced in the first half.
“We prepared very hard for this game and the games before so it wasn’t really a big surprise when we shot the ball well.”
Acadia took a commanding 26-10 lead as St. FX was unable to defend, leaving Acadia players open to knock down shots.
Anthony Ashe took advantage of those opportunities going 2/2 from deep in the first quarter. St. FX attempted to match Acadia’s hot three point shooting but was unable to do so and went 0/6 in the opening quarter.
Jeremy Dunn, who had been played extremely well the night prior started to bring his team back into the game and managed to score 10 points at the half. Terry Thomas was showing his athleticism yet again and chipped in nine points at the break. The Axemen led 45-29.
After the halftime break, the X-Men decided to dig in defensively and not allow Acadia to shoot the three as consistently as they were in the opening quarter.
The X-Men relied heavily on Dunn and Thomas to do most of the scoring as their driving to the basket was keeping the X-Men within striking distance as the third quarter closed. While the X-Men persisted, the Axemen still led by 14.
A very determined Jeremy Dunn would not let the Axemen have this game easily. He started working down low and everything he could to bring the X-Men back, he managed nine points in the quarter but his efforts were cancelled out when Owen Klassen went to work in the fourth quarter scoring 12 of the 20 points scored by Acadia in the quarter and unleashing his dominance.
Klassen spoke to NPH after the game about his breakout fourth quarter. “I tried to be aggressive the whole game and in the fourth quarter they were in foul trouble and they couldn’t really foul me so I got a couple open looks.”
Jonathan Tull delivered a dagger right into the chest of the X-Men as he nailed a three pointer late to give Acadia a nine point lead. St. FX has pushed and had brought the deficit to within six, however was forced to foul with Klassen convert ingat the FT line to give the Axemen the victory.
Coach Baur talked about how his team played against a tough opponent in St. FX.
“Our guys were pretty fired up and they were focused, they really focused on what we wanted to accomplish today. We had a bunch of shots from a couple different guys as well with a really great start and anytime you put that sort of pressure on someone else and make them dig themselves out of a hole it’s a long way to battle back from and it was a good start for us.”
Acadia and St. FX had already qualified for CIS Final 8, but with this Acadia victory it will be interesting to see how the seeding unfolds.
With Acadia making a trip back to nationals for the second year in row, there are more expectations and Owen Klassen knows that. “Last year we didn’t really have expectations, we were the eighth seed and we were playing the best team in the country and no one expected us to win and no one expected us to give them a game.”
“This year coming out as AUS champions we are going to have more expectations.”
Look out for Acadia and St. FX as both schools try to make an impact in the CIS Final 8 tournament next week March 9-11th.
The AUS tournament MVP went to Anthony Sears from Acadia.
AUS tournament All-Stars:
- Brian Rouse (SMU)
- Terry Thomas (St. FX)
- Jeremy Dunn (St. FX)
- Anthony Ashe (Acadia)
- Jonathan Tull (Acadia)