The Muskie girls’ basketball teams have been getting used to winning in lopsided fashion so far this season, but Tuesday’s results here showed they can win the close ones, too.
The senior squad kicked things off with a hard-fought 31-30 win over the visiting Dryden Eagles, building a late fourth-quarter lead before hanging on to improve to 3-1 in NorWOSSA play.
The Eagles almost clawed out a victory in the dying seconds. After taking a time-out with less than a minute to go, Dryden orchestrated a play that resulted in a three-point basket before stealing the ball from the Muskies as they tried to move up the court.
Fort High was forced to foul—sending the Eagles to the free-throw line with a chance to take the lead.
They missed both shots, however, as the boisterous “Fish Tank” crowd made a racket to help the home team preserve the victory.
“Yeah, you’ve got to put something together when you are down by four that late,” Eagles’ coach Mike Lalond said. “It would’ve been nice to make a free throw, though.”
For his part, Muskie coach Ian Simpson said he was happier with his team’s performance in the second half—but preached patience and better clock management when holding a late lead.
“I was trying to get them to calm down and not dribble into traffic, but instead take their time and double back,” Simpson stressed. “One senior guard and three juniors, so it might have been a bit of inexperience on our part at the end, but they are coming along.
“[The Eagles] are a really good team, in our face all the time and really athletic, well-coached, and our girls made some mistakes in the first half,” he added. “But they settled down and played a little better in the second half, and did what they had to to win.”
The loss was Dryden’s first in NorWOSSA play.
Taylor Meyers led the Muskies with 11 points while Lauren Gurski netted eight. Tamara Duncan had a game-high 14 points for Dryden.
The Muskie juniors, meanwhile, struggled for three quarters against the visiting Eagles but then stormed ahead with 16 points in the fourth to eke out a 24-23 win.
“I think we had a lot of shots in that first half, but nothing was falling for us,” co-coach Sarah Noonan said. “Our turnovers were really high all game, but we really came together in the fourth quarter, a little more sense of urgency, and we were making shots and moving the ball.”
Despite trailing 15-8 after three quarters, the black-and-gold used the momentum of the crowd to open the game up.
The Eagles matched the home team nearly shot for shot down the stretch until Chelsea Hill drained a long two-pointer with less than a minute left to close out the scoring.
The Eagles had one free-throw opportunity to tie it late, but the crowd once again rattled the shooter and forced her to miss.
“I think it was a few jitters on our side, but their defence was getting things done pressuring us,” Muskie co-coach Mike Krueger said of the low-scoring affair over three quarters. “It gets tougher every time we’ve played them.”
Erika Moffitt and Morgan Krueger had six points apiece to pace the Muskie attack while Erin McColm had 10 for the visitors.
Both squads host these same Eagles next Tuesday (Oct. 14) starting at 3:30 p.m.