Senior hoopsters earn consolation crown

Dan Falloon

A surprise superstar tripped up the Muskie boys’ basketball team at the Westgate tournament in Thunder Bay over the weekend.
The black-and-gold lost 60-47 to eventual champion Superior in the opening game of the tournament, but then rebounded with wins of 47-42 versus St. Ignatius and 75-45 over St. Patrick’s to claim the consolation crown.
Justin Anderson, Josh Strain, and Chris Legg were the Muskie players of the game, respectively.
Head coach Paul Noonan noted a new student from New Brunswick scorched Fort High for nearly half of Superior’s points in the opener.
“He was quite effective,” Noonan said. “That kind of surprised us.”
While Noonan was pleased with his team’s play overall, he came back to the game against Superior as a disappointment.
“I just wish we could have done a little bit better in our first game so that we could have stayed on the championship side of the tourney,” he remarked.
“That was our one chance to get there,” he added. “If we would have done that, we would have been in good stead for the balance of the tournament.”
Noonan did say getting to see the team in action for the first time was encouraging, observing that there weren’t many surprises among his players.
However, he identified a few areas of growth the squad is planning to address this week.
“[Playing in the tournament] gave us an idea of some of the things we need to work on,” Noonan said.
“We found that we need to try to get the ball worked inside to some of our big guys a little better than we are so that we’re not just outside shooting.
“We need to work on our penetration on offence and even transition,” he stressed.
“When we run transition, we do very well and that’s, again, a benefit of playing the aggressive defence,” Noonan explained.
“It creates turnovers, steals, and you can run a transition offence where you’re not having to wait to get into a set offence.”
Noonan also pointed out the black-and-gold learned a valuable lesson as the five-point margin of victory against St. Ignatius was once as large as 14.
He stressed the importance of keeping the foot on the gas even when things appear to be a cakewalk early on.
“In the St. Ignatius game, we were up 22-8 at the end of the first quarter,” he noted.
“We kind of put the brakes on a little bit, and when we lost that momentum, it was kind of hard to get that back again.
“We just realized that we’ve got to keep pushing all the time,” he reasoned.
The Muskies next are set to host their home tourney this weekend.
They’ll open action tomorrow (Dec. 9) with a 6 p.m. game against Baudette, will face Kenora on Friday at 2 p.m., and then will wrap things up Saturday with 9 a.m. and noon games versus Dryden and St. Thomas Aquinas, respectively.
Noonan said he’s excited to get his first look at the NorWOSSA competition this year.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the NorWOSSA teams stack up,” he remarked. “Then we’ll know what work we have cut out ahead of us.”
Fort High will open the NorWOSSA season Dec. 14 when Dryden comes to town, then will battle the Broncos in Kenora on Dec. 16 before breaking for Christmas.