The Muskie junior boys’ basketball team has faced a steady learning curve all season and will continue to face opportunities to get better.
After splitting a pair of games last week against the visiting Dryden Eagles and Kenora Broncos that dropped their NorWOSSA record to 2-5, the black-and-gold compiled a 1-2 record at the Kenora Invitational Tournament en route to a seventh-place finish over the weekend.
The Muskies now are on a two-week break for exams before concluding the regular season with a road game against the Dryden Eagles on Feb. 5.
Co-coach Dan Bird feels as though working on offensive schemes in practice will pay dividends for his squad as the season heads towards the playoffs, which are slated for Feb. 15 in Kenora.
“It’ll be good over the exam break for the guys to have a practice, maybe one or two practises, for that final away game in Dryden,” he noted last week.
“Hopefully . . . we can get them executing what we practised, and get them all on the same page and be prepared for Dryden after the exams.”
As for the weekend tournament, the Muskies–who only had seven players available–opened play Friday night with a 52-44 loss to the Sioux Lookout Warriors.
Then after falling 43-38 to the Atikokan Voyageurs on Saturday morning, the black-and-gold ended on a positive note with a 41-17 romp over the Red Lake Rams.
“We were up most of the game but ran into foul trouble and ran out of steam in the fourth [quarter],” co-coach Nicole Clarke said of the loss to Atikokan.
“The seven guys that are here are working their butts off and I know it’ll pay off,” she added.
“I’m proud of every single one of these kids who hustled hard and played three awesome games this weekend.”
The Muskies went into the tournament fresh off a 59-38 loss to the Broncos on Thursday afternoon at the “Fish Tank.”
A poor fourth quarter ultimately proved to be too much to withstand against first-place Kenora (6-1).
Santino Smith scored a team-high 12 points in that one while Jordon Bazylewski chipped in nine.
Brett Schram scored eight points and Jayden Woolsey added five.
“For the first half, I thought that we were deserving of at least a six-point lead at halftime,” Bird said after Thursday’s loss.
“The trouble we ran into was just not executing our plays,” he noted. “When they went zone, we just weren’t running our motion offence and when they were [playing] man, we just failed to execute our offence against man-to-man.”
Bird added he thought Schram “played a pretty solid game.”
Fort High had started the week with a hard-fought 56-49 victory over the second-place Eagles (2-4) to nab their second win of the season.
The Muskies will play them in the NorWOSSA semi-final next month, with the winner advancing to face Kenora for the gold medal.