With the NorWOSSA playoffs just around the corner, the Muskie senior girls' basketball team faced probably the closest thing to a playoff-type struggle last Wednesday in Kenora.
A determined Broncos team played the black-and-gold tough before Fort High finally pulled away in the fourth quarter to nab a well-earned 48-32 win.
“This is the toughest Kenora has played us all year and I give them full credit,” lauded Muskie coach Gord McCabe on Thursday.
“It was only 23-17 at halftime, and 37-30 after three quarters, so they were in it right up until we took control a bit in the fourth quarter as I think our depth finally wore them down a bit.”
Grace Petsnick led the way with a 14-point performance for the Muskies in the win over the Broncos (1-5), who saw their league record improve to 6-1.
Alina Eldridge had nine points while Keisha DeBungie chipped in with five.
Jamie Spencer, Rachel Anderson, Aurora Hutton, and Simone Payne all potted four points while Carmen Hebert and Joanna Empey both recorded a basket to round out the offence.
“Grace plays such a smart aggressive game, she has such a big motor and runs constantly,” McCabe said of Petsnick.
"She got two early fouls and I was worried she might get in foul trouble, but she adjusted to how the officials were calling the game and played accordingly.
“Simone Payne hit a couple huge shots for us in the fourth quarter when the game was still relatively close,” he noted.
The Muskies currently sit in a tie for first place with the Dryden Eagles, who also have a 6-1 record.
The season series between the two sides is also split 1-1, which makes today's home game for the Muskies against Dryden crucial if they want to get a first-place bye to the NorWOSSA final on Nov. 8 there.
“The game with Dryden is for first place, the NorWOSSA playoff schedule came out yesterday and the senior semifinal is at 11:30, and the final is not until 7:15,” McCabe revealed.
"That means if we have to play the semi and win it, we would be sitting around for six hours or more.
“I think everyone on our team wants to avoid that,” he reasoned.
“We know what we have to do to beat Dryden, so it will simply be a matter of execution.”
The Muskies then will conclude the regular season at home next Tuesday (Oct. 29) when they welcome the winless Sioux Lookout Warriors (0-6) to the “Fish Tank”.
Fort High has handled the Warriors so far this season, but McCabe is hopeful his squad will play with more aggressiveness down the stretch and in the league playoffs.
“Kenora was more physical and aggressive than we were and we have to get better at that,” he stressed.
"I thought a few of our players matched their aggressiveness—notably Rachel Anderson, Grace and Janissa Judson. But some of our girls need to be more physical.
“We lost too many 1-on-1 battles for the ball,” he lamented.
“Sioux Lookout has really struggled this year, and our games have not been very competitive, but it will give us a chance to work on some things,” McCabe noted.