The Muskie senior boys’ basketball team dropped a tight 90-84 decision to the host Churchill Bulldogs in the championship game of a six-team tournament in Winnipeg last weekend.
The Muskies came out flying in the final—outscoring the Bulldogs 12-2 to open the game—but then watched as Churchill fought back with some hot outside shooting.
“We had a good chance of winning [the tournament],” Muskie co-coach Paul Noonan said. “We led by as many as seven or eight on a couple of occasions but they always seemed to close the gap.
“They had a couple of guys who were hot shooters.”
The Muskies were led by Chad Avis in the final, who finished with a team-high 23 points. Co-coach Al McManaman felt Avis was one of the unsung heroes for the Muskies—on both offence and defence—all weekend.
Noonan also praised the play of Evan Woodland, Jeff Morrison, and John Sivonen (the latter two being named to the tournament all-star team).
Even though Noonan admitted there was little his team could do to stop the barrage of outside shots that found their mark, he admitted the coaches were somewhat disappointed the Muskies gave up a season-high 90 points.
Still, Noonan said he was pleased with the team’s performance, which included an 87-54 victory over the Grant Park Pirates to open the tourney and then an 85-54 win over the Sturgeon Creek Schooners to reach the final.
Woodland was the top Muskie scorer against Grant Park with 27 points while Sivonen had a game-high 22 versus the Schooners.
Noonan said they used a good mix of a half-court trap, zone defence, and full-court press at various times during the tournament, and noted their offence appeared to “pick up” more when they had everyone moving on the ball.
“Overall, the guys played well,” said Noonan. “I like a tournament like this in that, with three games in two days, the guys start to pick up things easier and the offence and defence starts to gel.”
When asked if this was the best team he’s coached with the black-and-gold, Noonan didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I think so,” he agreed. “We are a much stronger team than last year, and we are much better inside.”