SHAWNEE, OKLA — The Potawatomi Fire jumped out to a big first quarter lead of 41-18, and never looked back as they cruised to a 130–102 victory over the Pearland (Texas) Warriors. Deshawn Munson led the Fire with 20 points and 15 rebounds, on 10 of 14 shooting. The Fire had nine of their 11 players that played score in double figures.
Darin Johnson was next in scoring with 17 points followed by Lyle Hexom and Ruston Hayward with 14. Both Johnson and Hexom each had a pair of treys. Hayward had a strong game with seven rebounds and six assists to go along with his 14 points.
Rashaun Coleman added 13 points, three boards, and two steals. K.D. Moore and Paul Harrison each had 11 points, with “Big Paul” pulling down five boards in his first start of the season. Chris Brand was also solid off the bench with 10 points six rebounds and five blocks. The five blocks were one shy of the Fire single game record. Tevin Foster also had 10 points. Chuck Guy handed out 13 assists to go along with eight points.
The Fire (15-2) came out of the gate strong and led 21-9 midway through the first quarter, and 41 -18 at the end of the first period. From there it was cruise control for the home team as they rested their starters and balanced the minutes in preparation for a busy week ahead. The Fire led by 19 points at halftime, by 28 after three, and ended with a 28-point win. The Fire controlled fast break points 36-17 and bench points were dominated by Potawatomi at 66-30. They also controlled the boards with a 60-45 edge.
Tayvion Davis and Jon McDonald shared the high for the Warriors, each with 20 points. The Pearland franchise was playing its fourth game in five days. Sunday’s game, in fact, featured a complete roster overhaul for the Warriors from their previous game due to financial and logistical difficulties.
Coach Mark Dannhoff commented on the challenge of playing a completely different opponent than the one you prepared leading up to the game. “The guys played hard. You know it was a little bit different adversity than they’re used to,” he said. “The expectations of who you’re going to play and the preparations for the game and then to turn around and play somebody completely different is tough but I thought our guys handled it decently. It was an opportunity for some guys to get some extra playing time and for us to get some guys some rest for this upcoming weekend.”
The weekend that Dannhoff spoke of is a busy one for the Fire, with trips to second place Shreveport on Thursday night, May 11, followed by a trip through Texas and a game at Rockwall on Friday night. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. Then it’s home on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14 when the Fire host their in-state rivals, the Enid Outlaws at 3 p.m. It’s Ladies Day as all ladies get in free at FireLake Arena. All games can be heard on KGFF Radio 100.9 FM/1450 AM/kgffradio.com or watched on TBLTV.tv with a paid subscription.
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first TBL (The Basketball League) season in June 2022, winning 21 of 29 games played including the playoffs. They were 18-6 in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Central Conference portion of the playoffs. They won their first round playoff series before falling in the conference semifinal round. The Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire compete in the Central Conference of TBL, a men’s professional basketball league, now with nearly 50 teams in over 20 different states across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire organization was named the 2022 winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first-year franchise. The dance team of the Fire, the Fire Girls, were named Best Dance Team.
The TBL season begins in February and runs through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s developmental G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photo by Landon Kidney