Brandon tourney a learning experience for Muskie hoops squads

Jamie Mountain

While the Muskie junior and senior boys’ basketball teams didn’t come away with many wins at the Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational tournament over the weekend, they’re hoping the experience will pay dividends moving forward this season.
The senior squad compiled an 0-3 record to finish fourth out of four teams in Pool 3 play.
“As a team, hopefully we learned that we have to be better in all aspects of our game” said Muskie co-coach Greg Ste. Croix.
The Muskies were routed 94-40 by the Glewnlawn Lions and also fell by a 95-60 count to the Klevin Clippers.
But they played much better in their final pool play game, dropping a narrow 85-80 decision to Yorkton.
The Muskies then found themselves in their fourth-place teams playoff bracket of Tier 1, where they lost their first game to the Maples Marauders 80-51.
But the black-and-gold were able to bounce back with their lone win of the weekend after that, dispatching Bedford Road 85-46 to finish in 15th spot.
“Glenlawn and Kelvin were two very good teams, both athletic and fundamentally sound,” said Ste. Croix.
“Yorkton was a good team and it came right down to the last few possessions. You would like to win every game, but we are not at that level yet.”
The Muskies had gone into the tournament fresh off a convincing 54-34 win over the host Kenora Broncos in the NorWOSSA regular-season opener for both teams last Tuesday.
Mike Vanderaa led the way with a 20-point performance, which included an impressive five three-pointers.
Sean Huziak chipped in with nine points while Caleb Allan potted six.
Garrett Hyatt and Wyatt Richards both tallied five points while Ayden Gushulak-Kelly sank a three-pointer and Santino Smith notched three points.
William Richards sank a basket while Dominic States tallied a single off a free throw to round out the offence for the Muskies.
“NorWOSSA games are important to win, we shot the ball well at times in Kenora,” Ste. Croix lauded.
“It was good to get a game under our belt before going to Brandon.
“Practicing, playing in Brandon and league games have all served to grow the group into a team and really helps to develop team chemistry and identity,” he noted.
“We like where the team is right now and look forward to the growth throughout the season.”
As for the Muskie juniors, they also compiled an 0-3 record at the Spartan Invitational to finish fourth out of four teams in Pool 8.
After losing 76-47 to the Swan Valley Tigers, Fort High also was dumped 93-43 by the Crocus Plains Plainsmen and routed 68-24 by the Steinbach Sabres.
Then in the battle of fourth-place teams in the Tier 2 playoff bracket, the Muskies were dumped 77-40 by the Calvin Christian Eagles.
The Muskies played a lot better in their final game, but still came away with a 73-65 loss to the Killarney Raiders in the 15th-place game.
“We had a great first game and came out of the gate strong,” noted Muskie coach Corey Smith.
“We were only down a couple at halftime but ended up losing by about 25. The next two games we were in tough against some strong senior teams.
“Our first game on Saturday was another tough outing and we had a couple injuries to our strongest player, but our last game was a battle start to finish,” he remarked.
“They held a narrow three-point lead at halftime and we ended up losing by five. We had a could key players foul out and the whole team fought hard.”
The squad had gone into the tourney fresh off a 49-27 thumping of the host Broncos in the NorWOSSA regular-season opener last Tuesday.
Emerson Evans led the way with a 14-point performance while Brennan Jourdain chipped in with 12 points.
Tayler Chown added eight points while Garrett Paull and Christian Armstrong had four apiece.
Jake McKinnon sank a three-pointer while Sullivan Spiers and Ethan Barker both potted a basket.
“We played as a team all game and not as group of individual players,” Smith lauded.
“They have played together a lot over the years and it shows on the court.”
Both Muskie basketball teams were slated to resume NorWOSSA action yesterday afternoon against the host Sioux Lookout Warriors, with the outcomes not known as of press time.
They’ll then host the Dryden Eagles in their home-openers on Thursday afternoon for their final league games before the holiday break.