Muskie hoopsters bring home the gold

The Eagles had the brooms ready, but the Muskie senior boys’ basketball team prevented the sweep at the NorWOSSA playoffs last Friday in Dryden.
After watching the junior and senior girls’ volleyball teams go down to the host Eagles, and the junior boys’ basketball squad also have to settle for silver after two overtimes, the senior boys’ won NorWOSSA gold by beating Dryden 85-74.
The black-and-gold now will host the best-of-three NWOSSAA final this Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (if necessary) at Fort High against the Port Arthur Collegiate Redmen, who knocked off the Hammarskjold Vikings 44-36 last night to capture the Thunder Bay crown.
At stake is a berth in the all-Ontarios in Perth (near Ottawa) on March 10-12.
“We’re really tickled to win NorWOSSA, I thought we played a really good game,” Muskie head coach Paul Noonan said of Friday’s victory. “Our guys were hot when they needed to be.
“They just wanted it that bad, they just went out and did it,” he enthused.
Noonan said both coaches would have liked to have seen stronger defensive play (it was a very high scoring game), but neither of them wanted to disrupt the rhythm of the game by switching up the defence.
Cullan McGinnis scored 41 points, including 20 in the third quarter alone, to pace the Muskies. Kevin Gemmell added 19.
Right before the senior boys’ win last Friday, the juniors got the award for the most exciting match of the afternoon, which went to two overtimes before the Eagles prevailed 70-63.
Andrew Dobie, who had scored 26 points in the Muskies’ 50-40 semi-final win earlier Friday over the Kenora Broncos, tied the game at 49-49 with 47 seconds left and then put Fort High ahead 51-50 with just 13 seconds to go.
But Dryden’s Eric Tanner tied the score on a foul shot with seven seconds remaining in regulation time. In fact, it could have been over for the Muskies right then but Tanner missed his second shot.
The teams finished the first overtime tied at 58-58, but then the Eagles outscored the Muskies 12-5 in the second one to win the gold medal.
Still, coach Claude Gagnon said he was very proud of the way his team played.
< *c>Volleyball silver
Meanwhile, the Muskie senior girls’ cruised to victory in their semi-final match Friday morning against the Broncos, sweeping the best-of-five affair by scores of 25-11, 25-12, and 25-14 to set the stage for the gold-medal showdown that afternoon versus the Eagles.
“I’ll just be happy if we go out and start as a team, end as a team,” Muskie Kate Elliott after the semi-final.
The black-and-gold battled hard against Dryden but just couldn’t quite take hold, losing in straight sets by scores of 25-21, 27-25, and 25-12.
“It’s very tough because they’re such a talented team,” coach Char Bliss said of her players. “Both teams are strong and equally competitive. They’re sad because they know their capable of winning.”
When the junior girls finally started their final against Dryden, who had beaten Kenora earlier Friday in the semi-final, they had been awake and waiting for almost eight hours.
“The kids have been up since four o’clock and then they just sit and wait,” noted coach Duane Roen.
The team also had to deal with a very tough gym. In the middle of a school day, Eagles fans were packed in and not many from Fort Frances had made the trip.
In fact, Roen said some fans were throwing things at the Muskies and the team even had to ask for one to be thrown out.
“For young girls, that’s all it take sometimes to rattle them,” he remarked.
The Muskies did win the first set 25-23, but lost control in the second one and went on to lose 25-17, 25-21, and 25-15 to settle for NorWOSSA silver.
Roen acknowledged the consistency the Eagles showed in their game, especially in their serving.
“I knew if their serving was good, we’d have a tough time,” he said. “Any time we’d get any momentum, they’d shut us down.”