The Fort Frances Men's Basketball League playoffs kicked off with two quarter-final games Tuesday night at Fort High.
Both games saw teams hit great shots, pass the ball well, and—other than the Muskies—have two subs each.
The first game had the third-ranked BDO Ballerz squaring off against the sixth-place Muskies.
This game looked to be a forfeit for the Muskies but BDO graciously waited a few minutes for big centre Wyatt Richards to suit up.
That meant the Muskies had the minimum four players and the game was on.
The Ballerz came out strong and built a big 31-19 lead late into the first half on the strength of Chris Wall's inside work and Jordan Lavallee's nine points from beyond-the-arc.
But the Muskies fought back in the closing minutes of the half, mostly on the shooting and driving of Sean Huziak, and went on a 11-3 run to only be down 34-30 at halftime.
Then in the second half, the Muskies continued to dominate both the boards and the scoreboard as Richards was a beast in the rebound and block category, shutting down any points from inside for BDO and helping his squad take a 40-37 lead.
But then Jeff Campbell started heating up for Ballerz from three-point range—eventually hitting four in the half to help BDO regain the lead.
Michael Vanderaa, who finished with 19 points, also started making shots for the Muskies and things went back-and-forth for much of the rest of the game.
Ultimately, playing four against five (plus two subs) meant the Muskies couldn't keep up.
Lavallee's team-high 19 points, along with the veteran presence and additional scoring provided by Rob McGinnis and Toby Munro, led BDO to what ended up being a come-from-behind 65-58 victory.
The Muskies can be proud of their effort, especially Huziak, who had a season-high 21 points in a losing cause.
The second quarter-final game saw fourth-place Arctic Cat battling the fifth-place Revco Renegades.
For the first time in more than a month, both teams managed to field seven players on the same night, which was an encouraging sight to see.
Especially encouraging for Revco was having three-point specialist John Sivonen back from injury while—unfortunately—Arctic Cat entered the game without their leading scorer and play-maker in Justin Anderson.
The game started off on the right note for Sivonen, who hit his first shot for a “three.”
Jake McIntosh, who also had missed a number of weeks, responded right back with a “trey” of his own—and the game was on.
Both teams had six of their seven players make baskets in the first half. But while things were close for a while, T.J. States' barrage of mid-range jumpers and floaters eventually led the Renegades to a comfortable 34-24 halftime lead.
The second half saw Arctic Cat shoot a lot of “threes” in hopes of gaining on Revco. And while both Braedon Caul and Gabe Clark hit a pair each, it wasn't enough to discourage the Renegades from continuing their own balanced offensive attack.
Four of their players, including big man Steve Windels, hit at least one “three” in the half. And by the end of the game, five Revco players were in double digits as the team pulled ahead for a 62-48 win.
Joey Theriault and McIntosh led Arctic Cat with 11 points each while States ended the game with a team-high 14.
Sivonen drained four “threes” to end the night with 12 points.
After a three-week break, the semi-finals will go on Tuesday, March 19.
The first semi-final will see the top-ranked RBC Lions battling Revco at 6:45 p.m.
Second-place Sunset Landscaping then will battle BDO at 8 p.m. in the second semi-final game.