The Muskie junior girls dropped a tight 24-21 defensive battle to Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) in NorWOSSA basketball action there last Thursday.
The turning point came in the third quarter when the Muskies lost their leading scorer, Sarah Noonan, after she was called for an “unwarranted” flagrant foul while battling for a loose ball.
Co-coach Gord McCabe also was tossed from the game for protesting the call.
To make matters worse, starters Linda Zimmerman, Heather Mihichuk, and Marina Boileau all fouled out in the second half.
McCabe complained about the “suspect” officiating afterwards but also said he was impressed with the way the Muskies battled despite the circumstances.
“On the bright side, we lost by 18 to [Thomas Aquinas] in our first game, then by 12, and now by just three,” he noted. “We made it interesting despite the problems.”
But while McCabe was impressed with his team’s defensive effort, he warned they will have to step it up on offence—saying 21 points won’t win too many games.
“If you would have told me that we would hold them to 24 points and still lose, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. “But again, we were without our leading scorers in the second half.”
As the score would indicate, the game was a low-scoring affair. The Saints led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and then 8-6 at halftime. Thomas Aquinas then stretched that lead to 10-6 before Noonan scored a pair of baskets to tie the game at 10.
Then the Muskies started getting into foul trouble.
“I was really, really impressed with our defence,” McCabe said. “They didn’t have too many free shots at the hoop and many of their points came on second shots because they were much bigger than us.
“We shut them down and they never really had any soft points, which has sometimes been a problem in the past,” he added.
Noonan and Zimmerman led the Muskie scorers with six points each.