Muskies slam dunk Eagles

The Dryden Eagles should have been less concerned about the colour of their opponents’ jerseys and more worried about the people wearing them.
A last-minute decision by the host Eagles forced the Muskies to change from their road black uniforms into their home white outfits just before the two squads hooked up in the NorWOSSA senior girls’ basketball final there Friday night.
But it was the defending champs who were left black and blue as a fired-up Muskie squad exploded to an 11-0 lead en route to a 43-19 pounding of Dryden to reclaim the NorWOSSA title it had lost to the Eagles last season.
The victory means Muskie head coach Darren Johnson will have to follow through on his promise to dye his hair—possibly an outlandish pink—if his squad captured the league crown.
But the impending hairstyle change did nothing to stifle the smile of the Dryden native and former Eagles coach.
“To come to Fort Frances has been a great decision on my part,” Johnson beamed. “To come home and do this in front of my parents and friends makes this more sweet for me.”
The Muskies had earned a bye to the final by virtue of their 6-2 regular-season record and first-place finish.
As such, they had to wait 13-and-a-half hours from the time they boarded the bus here Friday morning until the opening tip of the championship game.
But compared to the year-long wait to seek revenge against Dryden, Muskie forward Danielle McGee said a few more hours weren’t any big deal.
“We were coming here to win,” said McGee, who led the black-and-gold with 12 points and was the epitome of the Muskies’ aggressive work ethic in the contest.
“That was the best defence we played all year. We played awesome tonight,” she added.
Johnson wasn’t about to argue with his senior starter, whose trademark intensity did not go unnoticed by her coach.
“That’s just Danielle,” he said. “If they gave out Olympic medals for effort, she’s have a handful of them.
“She work this hard in all sports she plays, in school, and in life to be a good person. No one deserves this reward more than Danielle,” Johnson added.
Rookie guard Miranda Miller, who teamed up with fellow backcourt mates Hope Wilson and Stephanie Mattson to provide some quality minutes off the bench in Friday’s final, echoed Johnson’s comments.
“Danielle’s like our Superman,” she enthused. “She comes out of nowhere, and never ever gives up. We love her.”
McGee’s teammates also stepped up to the challenge, with Tricia Smith draining 11 points and Andrea Boileau adding nine, including the first six Muskie points of the third quarter to break the backs of the Eagles.
Fort High badgered Dryden’s shooters endlessly, holding the home side to just two field goals in the first half as the Muskies grabbed a commanding 24-10 lead.
Wilson contributed seven points in the half, including a circus shot that she tossed up from her waist that glanced the very top edge of the backboard before falling through the hoop.
The victory means the Muskies now will host the best-of-three NWOSSAA final Nov. 22-23 against the still undetermined Thunder Bay champs, with that winner advancing to the all-Ontarios.
Johnson knows his team will be the underdog, but hopes the momentum of Friday’s win can carry over to next week’s confrontation.
“I can’t say anything really until I find out who were playing,” he stressed. “But if we play as well as we did today [Friday], we’re going to be competitive.”

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