Sr. hoopsters roll to home tourney win

Dan Falloon

The Muskie senior boys’ basketball team has gotten the 2010-11 season off to a fine start.
The black-and-gold dominated the competition at their home tournament over the weekend, winning all four games en route to taking top spot.
Fort High was coming off a season-opening tournament in Thunder Bay the previous weekend in which they beat two of the three Lakehead teams they faced.
Opening their home tourney Thursday night, Fort High thumped Baudette 56-27 on the strength of 17 points from Will Anderson, 16 from Josh Strain, and 11 from Justin Anderson.
The Muskies then throttled Kenora 70-27 on Friday afternoon, blasting off in the early going to open up a 29-5 lead after the first quarter.
“We jumped out to a fast start,” noted head coach Paul Noonan. “We played a lot of pressure defence on them early in the game.”
Justin Anderson led the black-and-gold with 24 points while Caleb McIntosh added 21.
Fort High faced its toughest test of the weekend early Saturday morning as they weren’t allowed to pull away from Dryden quite so easily.
Although the Muskies eventually came away with a 46-32 victory, they led only 12-10 after the first quarter and were outscored 14-12 in the second half.
Noonan said his team didn’t play up to their standards in the early going, allowing the Eagles to keep the score close through the opening minutes.
“We came out a little slower,” he recalled. “We didn’t play a pressure defence in that game.
“That’s something that we’re going to have to do,” Noonan stressed. “We’re going to have to come out very aggressive early.
“It gets our guys up a little more when we come out and we play high-pressure at the beginning,” he explained.
Justin Anderson blazed the trail with 17 points against the Eagles while Josh Strain had nine and McIntosh eight.
Fort High then wrapped up the weekend by bombing St. Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) 82-27 later Saturday.
Justin Anderson single-handedly outscored the Saints with 28 points. McIntosh, with 15, and 14 from Will Anderson helped provide the breathing room.
In particular, Noonan was impressed with the play of Grade 10 players McIntosh and Will Anderson, who already are getting a handle on what it takes to play at the senior level.
“Those young fellows really stepped up I felt,” he lauded. “Those young guys are definitely contributing to the overall
production of the team.
“They’re used to playing at the junior level, and they’re still quite young,” he noted. “For them to come up to the senior level and start showing some production like they are is really something.”
Although the Muskies weren’t overly challenged in their first tests against NorWOSSA opponents, there still will be some challenges along the road.
Fort High is slated to play at the St. Ignatius tournament in Thunder Bay on Jan. 14-15 while some Winnipeg teams are expected to make the trip to Kenora’s home tourney on Feb. 4-5.
Throw in an exhibition game against the International Falls Broncos on Dec. 28 and the Muskies certainly can find a handful of litmus test games on its schedule this season.
Learning from those showdowns will loom large as the team zeroes in on its goal of appearances in the NWOSSAA and OFSAA championships.
“[Playing tough opponents] is important to do that so they raise their abilities,” Noonan reasoned.
“It’s important that, if we’re fortunate enough to get past everybody, you want to be ready to play at that level when you get there.
“You have to still play at a high level, an intense level,” he added. “You have to be coming out and working hard.”
The Muskies kicked off NorWOSSA regular season yesterday with a 58-27 win over visiting Dryden.
McIntosh led the way with 19 points while Justin Anderson had 14 and Strain seven.
Meanwhile, the junior squad lost 58-28 to the Eagles, with Dan Andy netting 10 points to lead Fort High.
Head coach Greg Ste. Croix noted the Muskies’ defence improved after allowing 25 points in the opening quarter, helping to keep the Eagles’ score down.