OFSAA hoops dream dashed

Mitch Calvert

The Muskie senior boys’ basketball season came to a screeching halt over the weekend in Thunder Bay.
The black-and-gold ran into a pair of hot shooters at the best-of-three NWOSSAA final and were swept by the Westgate Tigers, who now advance to the all-Ontarios on March 9-11 in Timmins.
Game 1 on Friday afternoon featured the Jeff Barnwell Show as the Tigers’ sharpshooter netted a scorching 32 points, including 27 from three-point range, to pace Westgate to a 59-40 win.
Taylor Gynane added 20 points for the hosts.
“Unfortunately in that game, we didn’t step up defensively and allowed two players, in particular, to beat us,” Muskie coach Paul Noonan said, referring to Barnwell and Gynane.
“Those two guys really lit it up and we didn’t have an answer for them.”
Westgate’s zone defence also made it hard for the Muskies to play to their strengths inside and around the basket, but Travis Stromness still scratched out 13 points while Garnet Cornell recorded 12 in a losing cause.
The Muskies rebounded in Game 2 on Saturday morning, staying with the Tigers and preventing their scoring duo from lighting up the scoreboard for a second-straight game.
However, the Tigers’ depth stepped up en route to a 49-44 win and NWOSSAA gold.
“The boys played much better defensively,” Noonan said of Game 2. “We switched our defence to a triangle and two and concentrated on those two fellas, and both Josh Strain and Justin Anderson cut down [Barnwell and Gynane’s] scoring output considerably.”
Stromness was a monster in scoring 22 points for the Muskies while Anderson netted eight.
“Travis Stromness played his heart out, and worked really hard out there,” Noonan lauded. “I commend the efforts of the defence which played very well.
“It was a good series and unfortunately we came out on the wrong end, but there’s always next year.”