Jr. hoopsters rule home tourney

Staff

It took the Muskie junior girls’ basketball team some time to get acquainted with the pressures of playing on their home court for the first time.
But the jitters wore off after two quarters and everybody else paid for it dearly.
The squad easily was the class of the four-team field at their home tournament over the weekend, going a perfect 3-0 to grab first place.
“I thought we improved from last week and again I was impressed by our depth,” said head coach Gord McCabe.
“We played 15 players on a rotation basis all weekend and in each of our three games, and at least 10 of the 15 had at least one basket,” he noted.
The Muskies opened play Friday afternoon against the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora), an ‘A’ level squad, which should have been a mismatch but wasn’t throughout the first half as the ‘AA’ Muskies led only 12-9 at the break.
But when the shots started dropping for the locals, they never stopped as Fort High outscored the Saints 30-10 in the second half en route to a 42-19 victory.
“We started very slowly,” McCabe conceded. “I think it may have been nerves as it was the girls’ first home game and there were a fair number of fans in the stands.
“I did not think we played badly in the first half but nothing would go in,” he noted.
“We really started to up the tempo both offensively and defensively in the second half, and pulled away consistently.”
Grace Petsnick led the Muskies with 10 points while Keisha DeBungie had six and Angie Redford five.
Jamie Spencer and Ingrid Ellis had four apiece.
A more consistent Muskie team rolled to a 45-25 decision over the Dryden Eagles on Saturday morning.
“We played four solid quarters,” said McCabe, whose squad led 9-3 after the first quarter and 21-8 at halftime.
“We really moved the ball well and were solid on both the offensive and defensive glass, which is important against Dryden as they have some height,” he noted.
“Our fast break was working well and we did a really good job of spotting the open player.”
Petsnick again led the way with 10 points while Spencer had nine and Jacy Gagne five.
Carmen Hebert, Ellis, and Aurora Hutton each netted four points.
The train kept rolling as the Muskies then routed the Kenora Broncos 56-17 that afternoon.
“We basically ran Beaver Brae into the gym [floor],” chuckled McCabe.
“They only had nine players and with us running all 15 and switching every three minutes, they became visibly tired as the game wore on.”
Petsnick again was tops with 12 points, Spencer added 11, and Redford and DeBungie each had eight.
“I was really impressed with our inside play,” lauded McCabe.
“While Jamie and Angie Redford are reliable scorers, Ingrid, Aurora Hutton, and Keisha have proven themselves to be really strong rebounders and I don’t hesitate to put any of them in the game in any situation,” he stressed.
“Our guards are really passing and cutting well, and we are getting plenty of motion,” McCabe added.
“Bella [Ward], Simone [Payne], Rachel [Anderson], Jacy, and Carmen have all matured so much as basketball players.”
Payne dialed long distance better than anyone at the tournament to win the Taggs/Source for Sports three-point shooting contest.
Looking ahead, McCabe said the road is pretty clear-cut.
“Our goal now is to build on our early-season success and continue to improve,” he remarked.
“While we have had the upper hand thus far, both Dryden and [Kenora] are capable of beating us and we cannot forget that it is a team effort by everyone that wins basketball games,” he stressed.
The Muskies, who won their NorWOSSA opener in Kenora last week, hosted the Eagles yesterday (score unavailable at press time).
Then after facing Kenora here tomorrow beginning at noon, the squad heads to Dryden next Tuesday (Oct. 3).