There's always a learning curve in sports at the junior level and the Muskie boys' basketball team is starting to learn what it takes to be successful.
The Muskies nabbed their first win of the season with an exciting 56-52 victory over the visiting Kenora Broncos on Thursday afternoon that improved their NorWOSSA record to 1-2.
“The win [Thursday] was exciting and a great boost for the team,” noted co-coach Dan Bird.
“An improved play as a team on both sides of the ball was key," he stressed. ”The team is coming around in understanding what we practice is what we want executed on game day.
“There is still a lot of confusion on offence,” Bird conceded.
“[But] once we get to the point of all five players on the floor executing what we practice, we will be a solid team.”
Thursday's game was an absolute dogfight for the Muskies, who trailed the Broncos 23-22 at halftime but kept executing and eventually led 39-36 after the third quarter.
The final minute of the game saw the Muskies and Broncos (2-1) trade points, but some clutch baskets by Santino Smith made the difference in Fort High pulling out the win.
Smith finished with a team-high 17 points while Jayden Woolsey added 16.
Jordon Bazylewski and Ashton Barnes each netted five points apiece.
“Santino Smith missed Tuesday's game [against Dryden] but was a difference-maker on Thursday,” Bird lauded.
"Santino played well on both sides of the ball.
“Jaden Woolsey created great turnovers and was a constant offensive threat," Bird added. ”Brett Schram has been a solid player but [is] still learning the game.
“Jordon Bazylewski made some key baskets on Thursday, as well.”
The Muskies went into Thursday's game following a narrow 46-42 decision to the visiting Dryden Eagles (1-1) two days earlier.
Schram scored a team-high 19 points in that one while Bazylewski added 11.
“We lacked as a team on offence and defence on Tuesday,” Bird recalled.
“We have to improve in all areas of the game," he stressed. ”There are a lot of young players on this team with little game-time experience.
“We have to improve our passing game," Bird added. "Improved passing will create better shot selection and breaking a press.”
The Muskies will wrap up first-half NorWOSSA play tomorrow when they head to Dryden to battle the Eagles.
Bird warned the Eagles have some good players who handle the ball well and that his squad will have to work on its man-to-man coverage.
“I expect we will work on defensive skills and sets," he remarked. ”Last Tuesday, we had two of five players at a time on the same page, which resulted in some bad shot selection.
“Our defence kept us in the game," he added. ”We actually had some great opportunities to give us the lead in those closing minutes.
“We are a young team, but I and [co-coach] Nicole Clarke are excited to see how much they will improve over the next month of play,” Bird enthused.