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Court teams gear up for playoff run

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If the four Muskie court teams hope to win NorWOSSA gold here tomorrow, they’ll have to take the long road to do so.

None of them finished in first place after the regular season, meaning they’ll have to first win their respective semi-finals matches in order to advance to the championship games.

The Muskie junior boys’ basketball team closed out the regular season on a high note last night in Dryden, beating the host Eagles 38-27—the same team they’ll face in the semi-finals tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The winner advances to the final against first-place Kenora at 5 p.m.

“We feel great about NorWOSSA. We’re really excited,” said head coach Gord McCabe, whose team finished the regular season with a 2-6 record.

“We have to do more than just show up, but beating them in their own gym [last night] really gave [us] confidence,” he stressed.

McCabe only brought 10 players to Dryden to give everyone a chance to play and prepare for the playoffs here tomorrow. And the team also is excited about having home-court advantage.

“I would much rather be playing in Fort Frances than anywhere else. You know where the lines are and things like that,” said McCabe. “Not to mention we have our very own fans on our very own court.”

Joey Theriault, who just returned to the Muskie lineup last Thursday after a wrist injury, was back on his game last night in Dryden, leading the way with eight points.

Garnet Cornell and Travis Stromness added six apiece.

It was a different story for the Muskie senior boys last night in Dryden, where they came out on the short end of a 76-54 score to end the regular season at 1-7.

Kevin Empey was Fort High’s top scorer with 21 points. Jeremy Strain had 12 while DJ Howells added eight.

But the loss didn’t seem to faze their confidence regarding the playoffs.

“We were trying to get a feel for what might work best [tomorrow],” said head coach Paul Noonan. “Whoever really wants to win will walk away with the victory.

“I feel good about it.”

The Muskies will go up against the Kenora in the semi-final at 11:30 a.m., with that winner meeting Dryden for the NorWOSSA crown—and NWOSSAA berth—at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, both Muskie girls’ volleyball squads ended the regular season on losing notes last night in Dryden.

The juniors fell in three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-9 to finish winless at 0-8.

“I think the main obstacle partially is confidence,” said head coach Jeff Rajala. “We don’t seem to finish off as strong as we start. If the momentum changes, we start to lose it.”

But he added there are things the team could work on to improve their game.

“I just don’t know how we’re going to do it in a day,” he admitted. “Nerves [for NorWOSSA] are a big thing the girls are dealing with right now.”

The Muskies face Dryden in the semi-final tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., with the winner meeting first-place Kenora in the final at 2 p.m.

And the seniors had one of their worst matches of the season in losing 25-12, 25-11, and 25-16 to the host Eagles.

“They played very poorly,” said head coach Duane Roen. “We let them get out there and have a little bit of fun and try a few things out, but it didn’t really work out for us.”

The seniors wound up the regular season with a 3-5 record, but that still leaves them in the semi-final against Kenora tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.

The winner meets the first-place Eagles in the final at 3:30 p.m., when NorWOSSA gold—and a trip to the NWOSSAA showdown—are on the line.

The also will be a cheerleading exhibition tomorrow at 1 p.m. featuring the squads from Fort High, Dryden, and Beaver Brae (Kenora).

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