Senior hoopsters welcome road test

Given the Muskie senior boys’ basketball team swept its season series with the Dryden Eagles–winning all four games by lopsided margins–you can’t blame them for looking ahead to a possible showdown with the Kenora Broncos in the NorWOSSA final there this Friday.
The Muskies and Broncos finished the regular season tied at 6-2, and split their season series 2-2, but Kenora got the bye to the final by virtue of a better for and against points ratio versus the Fort.
So the Muskies plan to use the semi-final game against Dryden to give their bench players more chance to see the floor in preparation for the final later that day against the host Broncos.
Muskie co-coach Paul Noonan said he’s not at all worried about playing on Kenora’s home floor. In fact, he feels the larger court there is more conducive to the Fort’s high-flying, run-and-gun style.
Ironically, the Muskies won both games up there this season while losing the two played on the smaller court here.
“To be honest, I would rather play up there on the larger court because it lends to our style of play,” said Noonan. “I’m looking forward to the final–it should be a good one.”
“I think it always help us on the bigger court because we’re always looking for the fast break,” agreed forward Evan Woodland, who gives the Muskies a strong inside game up front.
Noonan said they won’t change their style of play in the playoffs despite the fact Kenora largely dominated them in their game here last week.
“I think we will continue to play a high-pressure type of defence and open up our offence to allow freedom for our players to do what they do,” he noted.
The Muskies play an exciting, wide-open style that often produces highlight-reel baskets when the team is hitting on all cylinders. And if the black-and-gold get off to a fast start, it could produce a high-scoring affair.
“We like to bring the ball upcourt and we tell our guys to ‘get down the court fast and head-man the ball,’” said Noonan.
The Muskies rely on the talents of John Sivonen, who has shown time and again his ability to break a game open by slashing to the hoop or dishing off the ball to his teammates with some crisp passes.
Sivonen also leads a strong contingent of outside shooters in Gary Wager, Bryce Coyle, and Chad Avis who can turn a game around at any time.
But while everyone knows the Muskies will score their share of points against Kenora, the key to NorWOSSA gold may lie in their ability to handle Kenora’s big man in Brody Tegg. He scorched the black-and-gold in their first matchup here and completely dominated the under-sized Muskies.
Noonan agreed they’ll have to keep the big man in check, adding they’ll try to double-team him underneath again with a combination of Terry LaBelle, Jeff Morrison, and Woodland.
Woodland said they have managed to keep Tegg in check during their last few games but warned they can’t let up because he has the ability to be a one-man wrecking crew.
The league winner moves on to play the Thunder Bay champs for the NWOSSAA crown March 5.


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