Muskie hoops squad seeking NorWOSSA gold

Jamie Mountain

The Muskie senior boys’ basketball team set out to attain a perfect regular-season record at the start of the year.

Mission accomplished.

Fort High ended the regular season with lopsided wins over both the Kenora Broncos and Dryden Eagles last week to earn a first-place bye to next Monday’s NorWOSSA final here with a perfect 9-0 record.

The only thing left on the Muskies’ checklist is to claim NorWOSSA gold, no matter who advances to face them out of the semifinal between the Eagles and Broncos.

“Going undefeated in league play accomplishes one of our season goals,” Muskie co-coach Greg Ste. Croix said.

“Having a bye to the final at this level should be an advantage, but in saying that, we still need to perform at a very high level in the final.”

The Muskies opened play last week with a 78-37 rout of the visiting Broncos on Tuesday afternoon at Fort High.

Wyatt Richards scored a team-high 27 points to pace the Muskies’ offence in the win over Kenora, who led 21-6 at halftime.

Dominic States chipped in with 11 points while Mike Vanderaa and Sean Huziak both notched 10 apiece.

Caleb Allan record six points, Braydon Christiansen had five, and Brett Schram tallied three.

Jordon Bazylewski and William Richards both sank a basket to round out the offence for the Muskies, who claimed the season series 3-0 over the Broncos.

Fort High then rolled to a 87-41 rout of the Eagles in the regular season finale on Thursday afternoon in Dryden.

Huziak led the way offensively for the Muskies with a 17-point performance while States and Wyatt Richards chipped in with 14 points each.

Vanderaa scored 12 points while Santino Smith and Bazylewski both notched 10 apiece.

The Muskies also claimed the season series 3-0 with the win.

“We want to play our very best basketball in the championship game,” Ste. Croix, who noted the Muskies’ performances in the season-ending wins were “business-like”, said of next Monday’s NorWOSSA final here.

“Outscoring our opponent should lead us to success.”

As for the Muskie juniors, they finished the regular season in second place with a 7-2 record after splitting their final two games last week.

That means Fort High will have to face the third-ranked Broncos (3-5) in the NorWOSSA semifinal here next Monday for the right to advance to face the top-ranked Eagles (7-2) for gold.

“We are hoping for another big victory,” Muskie coach Corey Smith said of the upcoming playoffs.

“Sticking together as a team, there hasn’t been any frustration or cracks in our team dynamics and if we can continue to work together, I have no doubt we can bring home a championship.”

The Muskies opened play with a thrilling comeback 38-37 over the Broncos last Tuesday afternoon at Fort Frances High.

The Broncos took a 37-36 lead with less than 30 seconds left off a free throw make but Ethan Barker found some space in the dying seconds and unleashed a jumper from the left corner that swished through as the buzzer sounded to give the Muskies the win.

“[I was] super proud, it was a wild finish and that give us some motivation for the rematch against the Broncos at NorWOSSA,” Smith enthused of his team’s finish in last Tuesday’s game.

“We played okay, just needed a few more shots to drop. That’s really what it comes down to in junior basketball.”

Andros Bruyere led all scorers with 11 points in the win for the Muskies while Brennan Jourdain chipped in with 10 points, Taylor Chown had six and Kade Oster and Noah McPherson both added three apiece.

Garrett Paull and Joaquin Woolsey both notched a basket to round out the offence.

But the Muskies were unable to carry that momentum into the regular-season finale in Dryden on Thursday, dropping a 46-33 decision to the Eagles.

McPherson and Jourdain both scored 11 points to pace the Muskies’ offence in the setback.

“We played okay, just got off to a slow start,” Smith reasoned.

“We were down 10 after the first quarter and then played with them the rest of the game.”