Junior hoopsters win consolation crown

The Muskie junior girls’ basketball team had a weekend their coach, Dan Bird, described as “great.”
Bird was very pleased with his squad’s play during a weekend tournament at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Thunder Bay, capturing the consolation final with a 36-30 win over the Westgate Tigers ‘A’ team.
Bird said his players showed “improved offensive ball movement, shot selection, and defensive play” in gaining the victory.
Lauren Gurski led the way with 14 points while Jen Hawley chipped in 11.
Bird also praised the play of Rachel Dutton, who “dominated the boards,” while lauding Kayla Windigo’s defensive work, saying she “was great on the outside defending against the shot and drive.”
The Muskies had opened play with a tough loss to Churchill, letting a 10-point lead slip through their fingers before the Trojans won the game on a one-handed, off-balanced shot from the hip that found the basket with just eight seconds to go.
Bird was upbeat despite the loss, describing it as a “good loss” in that the team learned important lessons about their game.
He wants his players to learn “that you can win a game without having to score with five minutes left” and to “work the ball and take time off the clock, and work it in for the sure one to three-footer.”
He attributed the team’s desire to “run up the score from 15-25 feet out” for the blown lead.
Gurski was the top Muskie scorer in that game with six points.
The Muskies improved greatly in their second game against the Westgate Tigers ‘B’ squad, cruising to a 29-9 romp to gain a berth in the consolation final.
Bird said the team played so well, “they could have scored 50-60 points had they hit their lay-ups and two-footers.”
Ashley Nordstrom led the way with seven points.
In an added skills competition, Gurski impressed everyone with a convincing win in the three-point shooting competition.
“She drained five three-pointers in her first nine shots in the final and still had plenty of time left,” Bird noted.
Bird also hoped their weekend success in Thunder Bay gives his team “some confidence heading into the stretch” before the NorWOSSA final next Thursday (Nov. 10) in Dryden.