At the midway point of the NorWOSSA boys’ basketball season, it’s clear all three teams are capable of winning on any given day.
And lately, the games involving the Muskies have been decided in the final minutes—making for some exciting hoop action.
The last two Muskie wins over the Dryden Eagles, including a 55-44 victory here last Thursday, were of the come-from-behind variety while their loss to Kenora was in doubt until the final seconds.
Last Thursday’s victory was a classic Muskie win—keep the score close in a tight, defensive struggle and then come through with some hot shooting at the end.
Bryce Coyle once again came up with a big basket for the black-and-gold down the stretch, nailing a three-pointer with three minutes to play to give the Muskies a 46-44 lead.
It was a lead they would never relinquish.
In fact, Fort High scored the final 12 points, making the score look more lopsided than it really was in a game that very easily could have gone either way.
Neither team could hold a sizable lead, with the Muskies ahead 13-10 after the first quarter and things knotted at 25-25 at halftime.
Both teams traded leads in the third quarter, then the Eagles went up 44-42 with four minutes to play when Conor Doherty hit a three-pointer.
Although the Muskie coaches weren’t happy with the turnover-plagued game, they did admit it was to be expected because they elected to give their bench a lot of time on the court.
“We’re not comfortable with the mistakes but we expect them," said co-coach Al McManaman. "[Our] guys have to get used to playing with a different bunch of [players].”
Still, the deep bench also has allowed the Muskies to stay fresh in the final minutes, which has helped them jump out to a 3-1 record halfway through the season.
“We’re [also] happy with the intensity [on defence]," added co-coach Paul Noonan. "But we still need work on our rebounding on the boards.”
Chris Wiedenhoeft led the Muskie with 15 points while Chad Avis added eight. Paul Sombrutski had a game-high 21 points for the Eagles, who dropped to 0-5 on the season.
< B>< *c>Juniors win
The Muskie junior boys’ basketball team also had a good game last Thursday against visiting Dryden, earning a convincing 47-31 win to improve to 4-0.
The duo of John Sivonen and Evan Woodland once again led the way. Sivonen had a game-high 17 points while Woodland added 15 despite the fact both players saw minimal court time in the first quarter.
Gary Wager also had a good game with seven points.
Head coach Claude Gagnon said they tried to use the game as a chance to work on different plays both offensively and defensively.
“We wanted to work on our defence and put pressure on the shooter," he noted. "And on offence, we wanted to try to shoot the three-pointer if case we [ever] need it late in the game.”
The Muskies connected on five of those attempts from beyond the three-point line, including a pair by Wager.
“We don’t really shoot threes so we wanted to practice them,” said Sivonen, who drained one from near half-court as the game expired.
The hoopsters return to NorWOSSA action Feb. 3 when they travel to Kenora.