Senior squad holds its own

Jamie Mountain

Compiling a 4-2 record in NorWOSSA play so far was nice for the Muskie senior girls’ basketball team, but they wanted to prove themselves against some highly-skilled Thunder Bay teams.
The Muskies did just that at the annual Tiger Fall Classic held Friday and Saturday in Thunder Bay, where they compiled a 3-1 record en route to a third-place finish.
“With the exception of the first half against St. Ignatius, I thought we played extremely well in Thunder Bay,” Muskie head coach Gord McCabe lauded.
“One of the big disadvantages of girls’ court sports is that because of the way Ontario structures their seasons, our girls can never play teams from Minnesota or Manitoba like the boys can, so it is nice to play someone from outside this area,” he noted.
The Muskies kicked off play Friday with a 57-40 win over the St. Patrick Saints (Thunder Bay).
Ellie Petsnick led the way with a 19-point performance while Grace Petsnick and Jamie Spencer each netted 12 points.
Sarah Larson added six points, Alina Eldridge and Janissa Judson each had four, and Bella Ward put up two.
Fort High followed that up with a 49-27 victory over the Sault Ste. Marie White Pines.
Ellie Petsnick again led the way with 12 points while her sister, Grace, had 11. Larson netted 10 points while Spencer added six and Judson four.
On Saturday, the black-and-gold were dumped 57-29 by the St. Ignatius Falcons (Thunder Bay).
But the Muskies rebounded in a big way in the bronze-medal game, rolling to a 61-40 romp over the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay).
Grace Petsnick scored a team-high 20 points in that one while Ellie had 19.
Spencer netted 10 points, with Eldridge adding four and Larson three.
“St. Pat’s is a very good team who had just beaten St. Ignatius three days before the tournament, so to handle them the way we did was impressive,” McCabe enthused.
“I was also really pleased with the way we responded to adversity against both St. Pat’s and Westgate.
“St. Pat’s made a real run at us in the second half and closed to within four but the girls did not panic,” he recalled.
“Westgate started quickly and went up by 10 fairly early but, again, there was no panic.”
McCabe also was happy with how methodically his squad worked its way back to take a slim lead at halftime, then was pretty dominant in the second half against Westgate.
“Against St. Ignatius, we simply were not ready to play and with their quickness, they made us pay dearly,” McCabe conceded.
“The game was out of reach by halftime and although we played a better second half, we need to learn the importance of pre-game preparation, both physical and mental,” he stressed.
“We will be discussing that in practice this week,” McCabe vowed. “While the team from the Soo was not as strong as I thought they might be, it is always fun to play a team you have never played before.”
The Muskies (4-2) are slated to head to Dryden tomorrow to face the Eagles (4-1), who edged Fort High 57-55 here last Tuesday afternoon.
Then they’ll close out the regular season at home this coming Tuesday (Oct. 30) against the winless Kenora Broncos (0-5).
“We have some plans to add some defensive and offensive wrinkles, and to look at all scenarios which could come up in the NorWOSSA playoffs,” McCabe noted.
“While it is important to play well in these last two games, our focus moving forward is preparing for the playoffs,” he added.
“After Thursday, we will know whether we will finish first or second and that will impact how we prepare.”
The Muskies went into the Tiger Falls Classic fresh off a 59-24 romp over the Broncos in Kenora on Thursday afternoon.
Ellie Petsnick led the black-and-gold offensively with a 16-point performance while Larson added 15 points.
Grace Petsnick chipped in with 10 points while Judson and Spencer each netted four.
Carmen Hebert and Ward both added three points.
As noted, Fort High began the week with the narrow defeat at the hands of the Eagles here last Tuesday.
The black-and-gold led 32-19 at halftime but Dryden trimmed it to 36-24 in the third quarter.
Grace Petsnick sunk an insane half-court shot just before the buzzer sounded to push it to 42-37 heading into the final frame. But that’s when the wheels fell off for the Muskies.
Spencer scored a team-high 18 points while Grace Petsnick was right behind with 17. Judson added 11.
“Against Dryden, Ellie Petsnick was knocked out of the game early in the first quarter with an injury and that definitely had a huge impact on the outcome as she has been our leading scorer all season,” McCabe noted.
“Nevertheless, we were up 32-19 at halftime and you would think that would be a lead we could maintain, but full credit to Dryden,” he added.
“We started the third quarter very flat and they got on a roll.
“I think I may have overplayed my starters a bit and I take responsibility for that as I think we tired a bit at the end,” McCabe said.
“It was a tough loss to swallow,” he admitted. “But with us being dead-even in point differential, whoever wins this Thursday’s game in Dryden will end up in first place.”