Muskie hoops squads both gunning for gold

Jamie Mountain

They played all season to earn this shot and they were hoping to make the most of it.
Both the Muskie junior and senior girls’ basketball teams capped off impressive regular seasons with wins last Tuesday against the visiting Kenora Broncos–and were excited at the prospect of winning gold at yesterday’s NorWOSSA playoffs at Fort High.
The junior squad had its lowest offensive output of the season last week in downing the Broncos 29-19 but still wound up in first place with a 7-1 record to earn a bye to yesterday’s final.
The Broncos downed the Dryden Eagles 23-19 in yesterday morning’s semi-final to earn the shot at facing the Muskies in the final that evening, with the outcome not known as of press time.
Muskie co-coach Gord McCabe had felt whichever team could maintain their nerves better would come out ahead.
“We are feeling confident and happy to have finished first,” he noted. “[But] we recognize that both Dryden and Kenora are capable of beating us and we plan to be prepared.
“I think the most important thing will be overcoming early nerves,” McCabe said.
“Whoever wins the semi-final between Dryden and Kenora will probably have their playoff nervousness behind them, so we have to get through the first few minutes,” he reasoned.
“Hosting the playoffs is a huge advantage,” McCabe stressed. “Especially with the junior final scheduled for 2 p.m.
“Hopefully there will be lots of students in the stands to cheer us on.”
Aurora Hutton scored a team-high six points to pace the black-and-gold to victory in their regular-season finale.
The Muskies led 23-16 heading into the fourth quarter, only giving up three points the rest of the way.
Keisha DeBungie and Tatum Glowasky each netted five points while Joanna Empey tallied four and Becca Jourdain had three to round out the offence.
“I thought we played solid defence throughout,” McCabe lauded.
“I think 29 points was our lowest offensive output yet in a NorWOSSA league game and we are certainly hoping we can improve upon that in the playoffs,” he added.
As for the senior squad, offence wasn’t a problem against the Broncos last week as they rolled to a 74-35 romp to finish the regular season with a 5-3 record, which was good enough for second place.
The Muskies rolled to a 43-19 win over the Broncos (0-8) in yesterday morning’s semi-final to earn a shot at NorWOSSA gold–and a berth at NWOSSAA–against the top-ranked Eagles (7-1) later that day, with the outcome not known as of press time.
“We have to make sure we don’t look ahead to Dryden,” McCabe, who serves as head coach for the senior squad, has stressed before yesterday’s semi-final.
“If we don’t perform well against Beaver Brae, we won’t be playing Dryden.
“Given our lopsided margin of victory in all four games against Beaver Brae, we are confident but we will be ready,” he vowed.
“We have to contain their two outstanding guards and we may have to make outside shots as I expect they will pack their 2-3 zone inside to try and neutralize our size advantage,” he predicted.
McCabe noted his squad had been working on some things in practice to address that fact, and also stressed the importance of playing better defence if they were to advance to the final against Dryden.
“We have surrendered 50 or more points in three of our games against them and that is simply too many,” he conceded.
“Hosting [the playoffs] is a huge advantage, especially when you play the semi-final,” McCabe added.
“You can get out of the building, go home for a bit–at least if you live in town–and get out of the frenetic noise that is the gym during the NorWOSSA playoffs.”
The Muskies used a 15-point performance from Grace Petsnick to cap their regular season in style.
Ellie Petsnick netted 13 points while Jamie Spencer chipped in 11.
Sarah Larson tallied eight points while Janissa Judson had seven and Rachel Anderson five.
“I was able to platoon all 13 players so that some of our more key players did not play excessive minutes,” McCabe noted.
“We hope we can repeat that in the semi-final so, assuming we are successful, we are still fresh for the final against Dryden later in the day.
“I was pretty happy with our overall performance,” McCabe enthused. “I thought many of our bench players had great games, especially Rachel Anderson, Bella Ward, and Carmen Hebert.
“We lost a bit of intensity in the fourth quarter but we had such a big lead by that time it is hard to remain as focused,” he conceded.