Junior hoopsters rule NorWOSSA
Jacob Empey threw a block party yesterday and the Kenora Broncos were the unfortunate guests of honour.
The Muskies’ starting centre was a game-changer on defence and added 11 points to power the black-and-gold to a 63-34 victory in the NorWOSSA junior boys’ basketball final at Fort High.
“All the guys played their best game of the season today, from the starters to everyone on the bench,” McGinnis added.
Matt Swing led the way with 14 points while Ian Jodoin added nine and Liam Metke eight.
Dylan Andrews netted 15 points to pace the Broncos.
But the gold-medal victory for the junior boys was the only one on the day for the Muskies—despite participating in all four finals.
The senior Muskie boys were no match for the Dryden Eagles, who raced out to a 39-12 lead after one quarter en route to a 92-52 romp.
Connor Bujold had 16 to lead Fort High while Braeden Caul had 14 and Cole Edwards seven.
But their efforts weren’t enough to compensate for the absence of top scorer Caleb McIntosh, who was dismissed from the team last week.
“Let’s face it, and not to take anything away from Dryden, but it hurts to lose your leading scorer a week before the playoffs,” said Muskie head coach Bryce Coyle.
“It definitely changed the way we prepared for the game.”
Kurtis Burnell scored a game-high 26 points for Dryden, including 15 in the first quarter.
The Eagles now will face the Thunder Bay league champs in the best-of-three NWOSSAA final next weekend, with that winner advancing to the OFSAA ‘AA’ championship March 3-5 in Perth from March 3-5.
In girls’ volleyball action, it was a disappointing day for the favoured junior Muskie girls, who had earned a bye to the final after finishing in first place during the regular season for the first time since 2003.
But that didn’t matter to Dryden, who survived a five-set scare in the morning semi-final against Kenora, then dropped the opening set of the final before rebounding for a 3-1 victory (26-28, 25-10, 25-17, and 26-24).
“Our serves were not always getting in and we lost a lot of points we needed to have,” said visibly-dejected Muskie co-coach Alyssa Holliday.
“I was surprised we didn’t come out better in the second set after winning such an exciting first set.”
The senior Muskie girls, meanwhile, swept the Broncos 3-0 (set scores unavailable) in the semi-final early yesterday to set up a final showdown against an Eagles’ team that had beaten them all four times during the regular season.
And Dryden made it five in a row with a convincing 3-0 triumph (25-19, 25-10, and 25-11).
“Dryden came to win, they played hard, and they were relentless,” noted Muskie co-coach Jason Cain.
“We didn’t have our best game today.”
The most difficult part of the loss for the Muskies may be the fact the senior Eagles, with former Muskie star Allison Hyatt on their bench as co-coach, now will get a free pass to OFSAA on March 3-5 Thunder Bay from March 3-5.
Hyatt revealed yesterday an extra team from Thunder Bay, as well as a host rep, has been permitted into the field.
That means there’s no need for an NWOSSAA playoff as is usually the case between the NorWOSSA and Thunder Bay champs.