The playoff atmosphere was in full swing Tuesday night at Fort High as the Fort Frances Men's Basketball League semi-finals took place.
Fans were cheering, there was lots of talking on the court, great basketball plays were on display, and there even was an “upset.”
The first game of the night saw wild-card winner BDO in tough against top-seeded RRFN, who came out flying and built up a quick 15-2 lead as BDO struggled to get any offence going.
Sam Soderman was the driving force for RRFN in the first half, netting 23 points, including four three-pointers.
BDO managed to get some stops as the half went along while big man Wally Tabash and his huge reach produced some nice hook shots which, when put together with Jeff Campbell's impressive three-point shooting, managed to keep the game close.
BDO only was down by 10 at the half (48-38).
The second half proved to be a real struggle for BDO to get any offence going, though, as they went more than four minutes at one point without scoring a basket.
Soderman added to his game-high 39 points with some slashing drives to the hoop while Payne Hunter (13 points) and Rob McGinnis (16) put up the “threes” to spread the defence around.
Todd Richards added a few “threes” of his own in the second half but it was too little, too late as RRFN came away with a convincing 85-60 victory.
Tabash had a team-high 20 points for BDO in the loss.
The second game featured second-seeded Sunset Landscaping facing third-seeded Arctic Cat.
Sunset fielded a team that included three high-schoolers, including two Grade 9s, but unfortunately were without their top scorer in Josh Mastin.
Arctic Cat, meanwhile, introduced a new high scorer to the game as Jeremy Strain had a monster performance—dominating the boards on both ends of the court while notching a game- and season-high 31 points.
With Strain putting in points off the glass and Jake McIntosh draining three “threes,” Arctic Cat had a 10-point lead at the half.
With Sunset needing to get things going in the second half, they tried to work their inside game but met with stiff resistance from Arctic Cat's big three of Strain, Jeff Nelson, and Dustin Eyolfson.
Mark Heyens had eight points in the first half for Sunset but only managed two in the second in what was a frustrating half for both him and the rest of the team.
Cody Johnson (22 points) shot some deep “threes” to keep things within reach for a while but Arctic Cat got key contributions from all of its players and pulled away for a solid 69-51 victory.
So we now are down to two teams, with very different styles, facing each other for the coveted league championship.
The gold-medal game will take place this Tuesday (April 25) at 7 p.m. at Fort High as RRFN and Arctic Cat both play for their first league title.
There is experience on both sides, as players from each team have won in this league before, but this matchup will be new and it should be a good one.
Players are invited to stick around afterwards for a celebration event, including food and a few awards to be handed out.
Pizza and munchies will be served in the school atrium following the game.
Come out for some great basketball and celebrate the fun year we have had!