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'All-star,' 'mediocre' games cap hoops season

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The Fort Frances Men's Basketball League held its inaugural “mediocre" and "all-star” games last Tuesday night at the Fort High gym—and both featured plenty of action.

The goal was to give as many players a chance to showcase their skills, be they of the mediocre variety or all-star calibre.

In the “mediocre” game, men aged 40-plus squared off against those in their 20s and 30s for the chance to show what they could bring to the court when the big shooters weren't around.

Team 40-plus started off great and grabbed an early 16-5 lead, thanks mostly due to Toby Munro's tenacious shooting and work down low.

But the young guns just needed a chance to find their groove, and with quick footwork and hands by Trevor Martin (who led his team with 14 points), they only found themselves down 20-17 at the break.

The big question going into the second half was whether the “old guys” would run out of gas.

That question was answered with a resounding “no!" as Dave Petsnick showcased his towering hook shot while Steve Windels put up a couple of big "threes.”

DJ Mackintosh and Conrad Dueck contributed both on offence and defence to help make it a team victory of 49-33 over the young guns.

Mike Canfield (10 points) and Josh Pawluk (seven) put up some “treys” for their part but it wasn't enough to close the gap.

There was a lot that wasn't pretty about the game—missed foul shots, drives to the hoop that went nowhere, errant passes, etc.—but there still was enough to cheer about for both teams, who played hard with no subs.

Munro ended with a game-high 22 for Team 40-plus, and would have been the game MVP if there was such a thing.

“Thanks to all 10 guys who came out to play,” said league co-ordinator Conrad Dueck.

“It was fun to end the season playing with different guys, and getting more playing time than many of us have had all year.”

The all-star game then followed, with seven U.S.-born players facing six Canadian-born ones for international bragging rights.

The action was fast, and the scoring came at a furious pace, as Team USA cruised to a 101-75 rout.

Canada jumped out to an early lead but the Americans fought back to tie it at 14-14.

Then Canada went on an impressive run, led by Joey Theriault's slick shooting, which included a number of “threes” and five-straight successful foul shots.

But after being down 32-23, Team USA went on a 12-1 run of its own, with Josh Mastin and Sam Soderman providing almost all the offence to even it at 37-37 at halftime.

Having shot so well in the first half, Canada needed to keep it up if they hoped to stay with the Americans.

They also needed to contain the league's two top scorers, Mastin and Soderman, which was easier said than done.

Soderman came out flying by putting up 10 points in the first four minutes—all from his usual impossible-to-stop drives to the hoop.

Canada, meanwhile, struggled to get the ball to drop. And if it wasn't for a couple of really deep “treys” by the always dangerous John Sivonen, they would have been down even more than the 63-50 they were when they called a time-out to get their bearings.

The time-out did little to change their fortunes, though, and with Cody Johnson knocking down three-straight “threes,” the game became out of reach as Team USA went on to the convincing victory.

Soderman ended up with 39 points while Mastin added 37 for Team USA.

Theriault and Sivonen led Team Canada with 21 points apiece while Wally Tabash chipped in 19.

“It was great to see the top players on each team play together and prove why they are the top players,” Dueck enthused.

"They have great basketball skills, making the whole game fun to watch for those in stands.

“Clearly there is a big difference in skill level in the league,” Dueck conceded.

“But the great thing is that the positive attitude and sportsmanship of the guys in the league means that we can celebrate playing together no matter our skill,” he reasoned.

“We really do like seeing each other succeed, whether success is defined by getting three baskets in a game or 30 points in a game.”

Dueck also wanted to extend his thanks to everyone who came out this year.

“Enjoy your summer off and stay tuned to the Facebook page for any basketball or other sports options that may develop over the summer,” he added.

“And we will see as many of you back in the fall as possible!”

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