They were determined to get the win and did everything in their power to secure it.
The Muskie senior girls' basketball team held the visiting Dryden Eagles to just four points in the fourth quarter en route to a convincing 53-35 win last Wednesday afternoon at Fort High.
The win secured a first-place bye to the NorWOSSA final on Nov. 8 in Dryden for the Muskies (7-1), who are relieved to not have to play in the semifinals.
“We went into the game with a very definitive plan and we executed that plan very well,” noted Muskie coach Gord McCabe on Thursday.
"We keyed on Dryden's big offensive weapons and limited their scoring. Dryden has a few good players and we focused on shutting them down.
“Meanwhile, our balance does not really allow them to do the same to us,” he reasoned.
The Muskies led the Eagles (6-2) 28-14 at halftime but a fierce Dryden run trimmed it to single digits at just 40-31 after three quarters.
But the Eagles began to tire as their top players were logging heavy minutes, which the Muskies took full advantage of in holding them to just a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter.
Fort High also claimed the three-game season series between the two teams by a 2-1 margin.
Grace Petsnick led all Muskie scorers with 12 points in the win while Aurora Hutton and Keisha DeBungie both potted eight.
Joanna Empey, Jamie Spencer, and Janissa Judson all tallied six points each, with Alina Eldridge recording five and Rachel Anderson adding a basket to round out the offence.
“They seemed to be trying to double-team Grace Petsnick in the early going but because we have so many girls who can score, and because Grace is so good at finding the open player, they could not really key on her,” said McCabe.
"They did make a run at us in the third but we never panicked and I think it was our depth that carried us.
“Dryden has to rely on a few players to play a lot of minutes and while they worked hard, those players seemed to tire a bit at the end,” he reasoned.
“Because we go 10 [players] deep pretty easily, it give us a bit of an advantage. We are almost at the end of the season and I cannot honestly say with any certainty who our best five players are,” McCabe added.
“We have so many girls who have different skill sets and bring something different to the table. That makes us hard to defend.”
McCabe felt as though the Muskies' aggressiveness against Eagles could have been better and they were looking to improve on that as they concluded the regular season at home yesterday against the visiting Sioux Lookout Warriors (0-7), with the outcome not known as of press time.
He also feels as though yesterday's game against the Warriors would be a great time for his squad to work out any kinks left in its game.
“The two areas that I thought we could have improved upon yesterday was our physical play underneath at times, although it was much better than our last game against Dryden,” McCabe noted.
"We also need to continue to develop our offence but that is something that is getting better all the time.
“We will use the game against Sioux Lookout as a chance to really work on our half-court offenses,” he revealed.
“Having clinched first place is a big relief and we will use this game as the first step in preparing for the league final. It is a big relief to not have to play in the semifinal, where even a minor injury could keep a player out of the final game later in the day.”