Although the Muskie senior girls’ basketball team lost all three of their games over the weekend in Dryden, head coach Gord McCabe said they were simply a product of early-season mistakes.
The Muskies opened the six-team tournament by dropping a 42-28 decision to St. Pat’s (Thunder Bay), and McCabe said it was clear his team was playing its first exhibition game of the season.
“We had a lot of turnovers and we did some silly things on offence," he noted. "[The girls] made some mistakes that were the result of playing in their first game.”
It was a different story in their second game Friday night, when the black-and-gold gave St. Ignatius (Thunder Bay), the defending NWOSSAA champs, a run for their money.
The Muskies led 22-18 at the half, and trailed by only just two points, 38-36, heading into the fourth quarter. But the Fort was forced to play the final frame without their offensive catalyst, Laureen Cousineau, who was lost for the rest of the tournament due to a sprained ankle.
That, combined with Karen Harris, Missy Hughes, Veronica Meyers, and Christine Noonan all fouling out, left the Muskies thin heading down the stretch.
“The girls we had in there weren’t experienced and St. Ignatius plays a pressing game so our girls had trouble getting the ball up to halfcourt,” McCabe said.
“The result was St. Ignatius reeling off a startling 24-7 fourth-quarter run to cruise to a 62-43 victory,” he added.
Still, McCabe said he was really pleased with their effort against St. Ignatius
“When Laureen went down, we lost our best ball handler," he said. "She’s our natural point guard, and our team really rallies around her.”
McCabe said Cousineau practised with the team this week, and should be ready to play in the season-opener here tomorrow afternoon against Kenora. But he stressed she won’t be rushed back into action.
“It’s a long season,” he reasoned.
But as good as the Muskies played at times versus St. Ignatius, the black-and-gold had a terrible second half in a 31-22 loss to Fort William Collegiate to wrap up the tourney Saturday.
The Muskies led 12-8 after the first quarter and 18-16 at halftime but then failed to make routine shots in the second half as they were outscored 15-4.
“We ran our offence well but we missed too many open shots and easy layups," said McCabe. "We stunk. We just weren’t shooting. It was a lousy basketball game.”
Defensively, McCabe said his team played “well in spurts,” particularly Harris and Edith McCormick.
“Good defence is the result of hard work, and we’re going to have to work hard to play good defence,” he stressed.
St. Pat’s and Kenora finished tied for first with 2-1 records but the Thunder Bay squad was awarded the tournament victory due to its win over the Broncos in pool play.