With the lead slipping away, Ashlyn Jewell knew it was a choice between desire and disaster.
“We wanted this one bad,” said Jewell, who along with her Muskie junior girls’ basketball teammates, turned wanting into winning in a 29-18 victory over the visiting Kenora Broncos yesterday afternoon for their first victory of the NorWOSSA campaign.
“We lost our focus for a while, but we got stronger down the stretch,” she added. “This feels pretty good. We’ve worked so hard this season.”
The Muskies (1-5) dominated early, leading 13-3 midway through the second quarter. But a gritty Bronco team battled back to close within two points at halftime.
Then after netting just two points in third quarter, the Muskies outscored Kenora 11-3 in the fourth to power their way into the win column.
Laura Busch led the Muskies with eight points while Rebecca Cornell added seven.
“We pressed on defence early in the game and stayed with it,” said Muskie head coach Mike Busch. “That’s the way we have to play the rest of the season.
“Even with Jodi Caul missing [personal], the girls had a big game,” he added. “We feel a lot better about our bench players with the way they’ve been playing lately.”
The victory puts the black-and-gold on a roll heading into their annual home tournament this weekend, when they will battle NorWOSSA rivals Kenora and Dryden, along with St. Ignatius and Fort William Collegiate Institute from Thunder Bay and St. Thomas Aquinas from Kenora.
Meanwhile, the Muskie senior girls’ basketball team avenged an overtime loss to the Broncos two weeks ago with a 28-17 thumping here yesterday.
“Last time out against them, our defence was lazy on its feet,” said rookie Melanie Hyatt, who played a hard-nosed game coming off the bench in causing numerous Bronco turnovers while battling for rebounds at both ends of the court.
“Now we have to work on our offence, especially learning how to slow down when we’ve got the fast break instead of rushing too much and turning the ball over,” she added.
Danielle McGee netted 10 points to pace the Muskies (4-2), who played the entire first half without starters Andrea Boileau and Tricia Smith.
Head coach Darren Johnson cited Christina Romaniuk, Carling Barton, and Carley McCormick for standout performances.
“The difference was our half-court press, and the fact the girls played disciplined and stayed out of foul trouble,” he added.
Also yesterday, it was a quick start but a sluggish finish for the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team, who won the first set before losing three-straight against the visiting Broncos to fall to 3-3 on the season.
Game scores were 8-25, 25-16, 25-22, and 25-22.
“The first game, we were everywhere and covered all the basics,” said Muskie coach Greg Ste. Croix. “Then the second group went in and a couple of guys didn’t come to play, and didn’t have their heads in the game.
“We had nothing. We were lifeless,” Ste. Croix remarked. “The third game, I really thought we were going to win it. In the fourth, we got up on them and let them back in.”
And the senior Muskies (1-5) lost their fourth-straight match as the Broncos posted a 3-1 victory in their best-of-five showdown. Game scores were 25-19, 25-12, 18-25, and 25-22.
All four teams will take two weeks off from NorWOSSA action before resuming league play on road against Kenora on Oct.