Muskie court sports wrapping up post-COVID fall season

By Allan Bradbury

Staff writer

abradbury@fortfrances.com

After not playing for a full year girls’ basketball and boys’ volleyball are wrapping up for the year. The teams were bubbled with Atikokan and Rainy River this year and there will not be any playoffs.

In Volleyball the Junior Boys are coached by Tyson Grinsell. The boys currently have a record of 5-1 and most recently beat Rainy River in three straight sets.

The team has learned a lot since the start of the season Grinsell says.

“To start the season we had a lot to learn about positions and rotations,” Grinsell said. “Even the grade 10s didn’t have experience with this because of missing out on sports last year.”

But the team has grown a lot and is playing well now.

“We lost our first match in Atikokan because of not playing well and making too many mistakes,” Grinsell said. “But the next day we had a good practice, and focussed on what we needed to improve on and then we won our next match in three straight sets.”

The senior boys haven’t fared quite as well currently sitting at a 2-4 record but coach Terry McMahon feels the team has only gotten better. The team has had a few setbacks to overcome with health and injury challenges.

Both teams have had to work through the challenges of not playing all of last year but senior boys seem to be feeling it worse as the current grade 12s haven’t played at that level before because there was no season last year.

“It’s a big step up to senior, that’s what I told them,” McMahon said. “Everyone’s bigger and stronger. Rainy River I think has a middle that’s about six foot seven. So getting used to your opponent being bigger and stronger and returning to the court has been a challenge.”

In their most recent game the senior Muskies played well McMahon says.
“I think our last game we figured out how we can play our game and not worry so much about what’s on the other side of the net,” McMahon said. “They were really starting to fly last game so it was good.”

In another interesting development for the senior boys’ team, they had a female player join the team this season. Jersey Masson is typically a hockey player on the Muskie girls team so would not be able to play girls volleyball, which runs parallel to the hockey season.

“I’ve known Jersey, I think since grade 8,” McMahon said. “Through volleyball and camps. She’s a hockey player and she asked if she could come and try out. I know she’s a good athlete, I know she’s played volleyball and is knowledgeable and has a lot of experience with club volleyball. So I had administration look into it and they said yes.”

McMahon said that Masson has had a good tryout and has been a good addition to the team.

“She came out and she had to have a good tryout,” McMahon said. “And she’s been a super hard worker and super coachable and has a great attitude.”

On the other court the girls basketball teams have also had a great season so far.

The junior girls’ team currently sits at five wins, one loss

Coach Darren Strickland is hopeful for a good finish in the last two games of the season.

“We’re hoping to finish the season pretty strong,” Strickland said. “We just had a really good game against Rainy River last week where we were tied at half 14-14 but we had to push really hard to get that win.”

Despite not having played sports last year Strickland says he likes the way the team has come together.

“I think it’s an interesting season right?” Strickland said. “With there not being sports the last couple of years due to COVID. They came together as a team really quick and they started to play as a team right away and just kind of always game every day ready to play.”

Strickland says a highlight of the season has been a turn around versus Rainy River.

“We had a really close game against Rainy River that we ended up losing 26-25,” Strickland said. “We really worked hard in practice and kind of fixed some of our mistakes. When we came out and played again it was another close game, like I said, 14-14 at halftime…They pushed really hard and they played really well and they deserved that win.”

The senior girls group has had a great season as well. Under coach Mike Krueger the team has taken off to a 7-0 record.

“I think the team has come to the point where they’re actually progressing each game. They seem to be coming together as a team working well on defense,” Krueger said. “And on the offensive side they’ve just come along, they’re a pretty good group of girls.

The team is mostly made up of grade 12 students who have stood out as leaders on the team.

“We’ve got some girls when they’re out on the floor they’re talking to the rest of the team, making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Krueger said. “When we’re running our offense and defense a couple of our guards seem to carry a lot of our games for us.”